Freedom Schools is a program with roots in the Freedom Summer of 1964 in Mississippi. That summer, college students volunteered to teach the children subjects not taught in public schools. Today, through the Children’s Defense Fund, many churches in West Ohio continue the mission of Freedom Schools each Summer with a curriculum to increase or maintain the reading levels of children in the summer months when school is out.
At Asbury North United Methodist Church, former teacher and Freedom Schools Director Jamahl Jones led group of volunteers to teach 50 students; ten students per class. During the six-week program under the theme, “Making a Difference” kids learned to make a difference in themselves, their neighborhood, family, country, world and education.
The curriculum includes reading time with adults from corporate industry, education and the local community. In addition, the students learned about social and climate justice and how to raise awareness by petitioning for the stoppage of pollution. As an actionable step to show care for the earth, every Monday the students cleaned up litter in the neighborhood.
Jones said, “I would like to thank the congregation of Asbury North UMC and the West Ohio Conference for their continued support of our Freedom Schools. Your donations, volunteering, and support of program events has continued to allow us to serve families and students all over the Columbus area. I am forever indebted to you all!”
Freedom Schools were held throughout West Ohio at many of our congregations including Church and Community for All People (Capital Area District), Covenant UMC (Miami Valley District) and Monroe Street Neighborhood Center (Maumee Watershed District).