Hello from Rosedale!

Dear Friends of FSTF, 

We hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day weekend! As we celebrated the many freedoms we currently enjoy, we were reminded of the hard civil rights battles fought and won during the original Freedom Summer half a century ago. We were also reminded of how far we--as individuals, as an organization, and as a nation--have to go. Still, though, we believe there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. If this summer has taught us anything, it's that the right kinds of care, conversation, questions, and opportunities can bring about incredible transformation. Our students and teachers have accomplished amazing things over the last four weeks (we never doubted that they would), and proved that opportunities for authentic learning make a world of difference.

After serving with TFA in Rosedale's public high school and designing the SCFP's literacy program, Jeremiah Smith decided to bring the Freedom Project model that had proved so sucessful in Sunflower and Meridian to Rosedale. This is the program's first year operating as a Freedom Project Site, and Smith is optimistic that his students will be able to

compete favorably with the nation's best and brightest when it comes time for the college process. After spending a few weeks working with them, we couldn't agree more!

Our Rosedale teaching fellows have pushed their students beyond the limits of what most high school students are ever asked to do. Monica Hershberger, who studies historical musicology at Harvard, designed her course around the notion that music--whether we listen to it in the background while we study or sit in the audience at an opera--is always political. 

Beginning with Beyoncé's "Formation," and working back through some of the most popular songs in American history, Monica has challenged her students to think critically about what she identifies as "some of the historic successes and failures of music to agitate and change the world." Students participate in daily "listening labs," and recently took a tour of the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, MS. They will also write their own "Freedom Songs" before the summer is done!

Ahnna Beruk is also teaching at the Rosedale Freedom Project this summer. After having spent a large part of her own childhood in the Delta, Ahnna was eager to return and share her journey with the students at the RFP. "I want them to know that great opportunities are out there for them," Ahnna explained, "and I want them to know how to access them."

Ahnna studies water engineering at Duke University, and her course is designed to help students understand how to use science and engineering skills to improve their own communities. Through a series of experiments, theoretical exercises, discussions, and readings, Ahnna has taken her students through real-world contamination scenarios--most notably the recent water crisis in Flint, MI--and equipped them with the tools to arrive at their own solutions. The photos below show two of Ahnna's students testing out water filtration techniques on their own. Rumor has it, they want to be water engineers someday!

Though Ahnna and Monica will both leave Rosedale next week, the students they have taught will be reaping the benefits of these courses for the rest of their lives. They have been pushed not only to think deeply about complex ideas, but also to envision themselves as changemakers in the process. This, we think, is the greatest promise that the Freedom Summer Teaching Fellowship holds, and we are thrilled to report that all eight of our teachers have found ways to inspire this kind of growth in their students. 

Monica Hershberger (Harvard) and Ahnna Beruk (Duke)

Monica Hershberger (Harvard) and Ahnna Beruk (Duke)

We hope you have enjoyed receiving these weekly updates. As our courses draw to a close and our teachers head home, we will spend the next few weeks working through student work, feedback, and ACT data and reflecting on everything we learned this summer. We look forward to sharing our results with you!

In the meantime, thank you all for your continued interest and support. It has been a pleasure to share our stories with you this summer and to hear your thoughts about how we're doing. Please feel free to reach out if you have additional feedback or questions. We would love to keep you all involved as we continue to grow!

Andy & Emily 

Laura Beth Lott