UVA partners with Charlottesville to form Freedom School

WVIR NBC29 News at 5 p.m - Charlottesville Freedom School

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Professors and students at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education teamed up with Charlottesville City School (CCS) to open the city’s first Freedom School this summer.

The free, virtual program is for third-through-fifth grade students in both CCS and Albemarle County Public Schools. Participating students will receive online instructions from Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) from the Curry School. They will also be given free books, supplies, and meals, if needed.

The five-week program is part of the national Freedom Schools program organized by the Children’s Defense Fund, which was founded to improve literacy skills and encourage social activism by exposing students to literature pertaining to the civil rights movement.

“It provides stories and narratives and practices that really show examples of resistance and agency and community for scholars that can inspire them to make changes in their own communities,” Dr. Johari Harris-Ward said. “We know that, as third-through-fifth graders, they’re too young to go to ballot box, but there’s so many ways they can affect ways at the local, state and national levels.”

Harris-Ward said scholars learn about Charlottesville’s history and are able to participate in virtual field trips to places like Monticello and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Additionally, participating scholars also receive one-to-one tutoring from SLIs to help build better student-teacher connections as they learn and cultivate a more collaborative learning environment.

“They’re not here to really fix or correct. They’re really here to listen and learn and support in the way that family members and community members think is best,” Harris-Ward said.

Dr. Harris-Ward said even though enrollment is closed for this summer, she hopes to see more scholars in the program next year.

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