East Knoxville Freedom School promotes summer reading, positivity

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Nearly 60 kids in Knoxville are back in the classroom this summer, but it is far from typical summer school.

It is called the East Knoxville Freedom School at Sarah Moore Green Magnet Academy in East Knoxville, and it is designed to promote reading to make positive changes in the community.

“Freedom School is a program that was created by the Children’s Defense Fund about 22 years ago. It is a six-week summer program that is designed to help children fall in love with reading,” said Denise Dean, program director.

The students are called scholars. The instructors are called Servant Leader Interns, or SLIs. The SLI for one class, Riley Mosby, started Wednesday with a book called “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”

“The students make little kimonos, and they get to decorate them. We talk about peace and memorial days,” Mosby said.

While the kids are surrounded by books at school, that may not always be the case when they are at home. A big part of the Freedom School is bridging that gap and keeping kids reading during summer break, but they are also doing it in a way the kids can relate to to keep them interested in the books.

“One of my favorite books that’s in the Children’s Defense Fund curriculum is Tears of a Tiger and it talks about child suicide in a sense, and that’s a huge topic that we’re dealing with especially in Knox County,” said Evetty Satterfield, site coordinator.

It is all about culture and relating what is in the pages of the books to what they see and do in real life.

“It also contains images and stories that our children from the East Knoxville community can relate to, right. So they’ll see images that look like them. They’ll hear stories that they may have heard in their own families or their own neighborhoods,” Dean said.

It is a relaxed way of learning over the summer break that will hopefully stick with these kids as they go through life.

“Just making sure they get the same quality education, the same head start, and they’re comfortable and love to read,” Mosby said.

Freedom School will run through July and is free for all the families involved.

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