Nearly 5,000 books have been donated to the Rosedale Freedom Project according to the director Jeremiah Smith.
“One of the number one things that boosts student’s reading scores is independent reading and no one wants to read boring or beat up books. It’s really important to get high interest books for kids," said Smith.
West Bolivar Middle School parents and students were invited to the school’s Curriculum Night, which was designed for parents to get a chance talk with teachers and learn about the testing strategies they are using to prepare their children for the state assessment test.
During the event Smith talked with parents and told them about the books as well as some of the ways their children can become apart of the Rosedale Freedom Project.
Students and parents were encouraged to take some of the books that were on display.
Along with Smith was student Kasha Williams, who is a Freedom Fellow and with others played a major role in acquiring the books.
"This group of folks in Chicago came down to visit and they saw the Freedom Project and they got excited about the work we were doing there, so then they said, 'well we would love to do something in connection.’ They started a book drive and we thought we would get like 500 books and they wound up with almost 5,000 books and they shipped them down."
The group also sent Smith benches created by students from the Chicago school, which will be placed outside in the garden area of the Freedom Project center and the Rosedale Public Library.
Smith said he hopes to get 1,000 books at each school in Rosedale as well as the Rosedale Public Library and the Rosedale Freedom Program over the next two weeks.
He said he would also like to have the top readers from the middle school come to the Freedom Project center and sort through the books and pick out some they would like to have placed at their school.
West Bolivar Middle School principal Sharron Miller said she is excited about the book donations and the work Smith has done with students in Rosedale.
"Jeremiah has been working with (West Bolivar Middle School) for the past year or so. We have had students to go up and join his afterschool program. We do see growth in our student's scores, so everything that they are doing ties back to what we do here. So it does helps to improve our scores," said Miller.
Along with the book donations, Smith said he is hoping to create more opportunities for students with a summer program.
The Rosedale Freedom Project is organizing a summer program for middle school and high school students. He and his students will be at the Delta Arts Alliance on April 27 to discuss the summer program in depth.