Freedom School volunteers sort supply drive items during the 2019-20 school year
Since 2012, Providence Day School has partnered with Freedom School Partners, a Charlotte-based organization that provides summer literacy and enrichment programs for students in grades K-8 throughout Charlotte’s communities. Providence Day’s Freedom School program is a cross-divisional social responsibility initiative for our community and spans the entire year.
Freedom Schools focus on three resources needed to develop scholars’ potential and inspire a love of reading and learning – literacy skills, character strengths, and a community that believes in them. The Providence Day Freedom School program nurtures 55 scholars from neighboring Rama Road Elementary each summer.
Scholars can fall behind in reading due in large part to summer learning loss when they do not have access to educational and enrichment opportunities during the summer. When participating in Freedom School, 90% of the scholars maintain or increase their literacy rate over the summer.
PD hosts supply drives every school year from August through April collecting necessary items for Freedom School scholars at sites around Charlotte for the following summer. Second-grade teacher and PD Freedom School Director Katie Carmichael works with Freedom School to identify the items that the scholars need. As of April 2022, Providence Day donated over 241 boxes of supplies.
Traditionally, a number of Upper School students and community members volunteer to support PD’s Freedom School program hosted on the school’s campus each summer. During the summer of 2019, over 3,500 hours were logged between over 500 PD volunteers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freedom School had limited volunteer interaction with scholars, yet the PD community still worked together to ensure that these scholars had a great summer.
“I was amazed by the excitement and energy displayed by our student volunteers,” said Carmichael. “Not once did they complain about the shift in their volunteer activity. Rather, they showed up every day with a positive attitude even when they knew they would be organizing the storage facility which houses our donations or helping prepare supplies for STEM activities.”
Carmichael adds, “Our volunteers, in light of virtual classes and rotating pods, just wanted to be with other kids. Even though they weren’t working directly with scholars, they built relationships with other PD students they may not have had the opportunity to interact with throughout COVID. Every day of the week had something planned, whether it was on campus or not, which was amazing.”
It might have looked different during the pandemic, but the natural PD spirit and drive to give back never left. This summer, there are plans for in-person volunteering again. Carmichael has been working hard to roll out applications for Teen Board, organize the items collected from the supply drives, and start preparations for summer activities for both volunteers and scholars.