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A Summer Journey toward Higher Education: Freedom School

Thirty fourth-grade students from Longwood School District were among 50 children, once again, provided the opportunity to participate in Stony Brook’s Freedom School.

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Middle Island, NY - September 9, 2014 - Thirty fourth-grade students from Longwood School District were among 50 children, once again, provided the opportunity to participate in Stony Brook’s Freedom School, now in its second year. The Freedom School, held for six weeks throughout July and August, has the potential to change the course of

Joshua Nauman, Longwood alumnus and third year student at Stony Brook University, fills with pride when he speaks of his role as teacher and mentor to the Longwood students. “I get so much more from this experience than the kids,” Joshua said. “In only six weeks, I see such growth in their self-esteem. It’s amazing to watch how far they have come with literacy and their love of learning. It’s like they come full circle, and I’m so incredibly proud to be working with them.” Freedom Schools is a Children’s Defense Fund national program established in 1992 under the leadership of CDF President and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman.

Last year, the Children’s Defense Fund partnered with Stony Brook University to bring this established 24 year-old national literacy program to a group of Long Island students. Children are taught using a model curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health. Dr. Phyllis Sterne, Longwood’s Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Learning, worked closely with retired Coram Principal Roni Robbins to ensure that Longwood students had the opportunity to be part of Stony Brook’s Freedom School.

“When I reviewed the curriculum, I was so impressed with the quality of the books; all based on the Common Core Standards,” Mrs. Robbins said. “The goal of the program is to bring an interest in higher education, as well as increase their level of reading.”

Dr. Sterne said that parents and student volunteers are fully committed to the partnership with the university.

“From the initial meeting and all throughout the second year, I was continuously moved by the strong commitment of the participants, including the parents of both the scholars and student volunteers, as well as the student volunteers themselves,” said Dr. Sterne. “As part of the Freedom School philosophy, parents are required to participate in workshops designed to connect them to resources in the community, which is a vital component of the program. The families of these children are truly grateful for the opportunities that have been extended to them, and we are so fortunate that Stony Brook University has committed to continuing this valuable resource.”