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The Ambassadors of the A-TEAAM shine brightly during closing ceremony

MISSISSIPPI LINK — Sixth grade males from several middle schools across the state participated in an Awards and Recognition Ceremony Sunday, April 28, at the Westin Hotel in Jackson. The ceremony has become a staple closing event for the young men that are selected as Ambassadors of the Evers Academy for African American Males (A-TEAAM).

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By Othor Cain

Sixth grade males from several middle schools across the state participated in an Awards and Recognition Ceremony Sunday, April 28, at the Westin Hotel in Jackson.

The ceremony has become a staple closing event for the young men that are selected as Ambassadors of the Evers Academy for African American Males (A-TEAAM).

The A-TEAAM is a mentorship, character and leadership development program whose aim is to inspire young males of color in middle school and beyond to honor the life and live the legacy of Medgar Evers as they interact with a “village” of role models and mentors. This ‘village’ of mentors provides support and one-on-one guidance utilizing a meaningful curriculum to empower these young men as they matriculate through middle school.

The A-TEAAM movement is to improve the quality of life for young men by equipping them with the necessary skills, knowledge and support provided by mentors. The objective of the A-TEAAM is to assist the young ambassadors in making internal changes with an outcome of increased positive self-esteem and overall improvement in the way they view the world.

During the ceremony, A-TEAAM ambassadors who completed their first year in the mentorship program were recognized and a special tribute was given to the “Ambassador of the Year.” The Ambassadors of the Year, selected by their peers at each participating school, received a bicycle and helmet – compliments of Regions Bank.

During the Awards and Recognition program, ambassadors also received their 9-week contribution to their savings account at Magnolia Federal Credit Union. Representatives from Magnolia were on hand and generated much excitement with the financial deposits.

Another highlight of the mentoring program is that the ambassadors are encouraged to write. Over the course of the year, the ambassadors engaged in writing sessions and Sunday their writings were released in the 2019 A-TEAAM Booklet of writings, “I!CAN Imagine: Voices of Young Authors.”

The A-TEAAM Mississippi is a collaborative effort with 24 community-based organizations.The A-TEAAM has yielded positive results: 51% increased school attendance; 95% increased knowledge of cultural awareness; and 61% increased positive behavioral changes.

What began as a pilot program in two middle schools has now become a National Mentoring Program. The Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute and the Juanita Sims Doty Foundation have partnered with the Top Ladies of Distinction (TLOD), a national service organization with aligned goals and values and who has 109 chapters across the United States. This partnership was launched during the TLOD 50th Anniversary celebration in Houston, TX in October 2014. A-TEAAM TLOD sites are in Houston, TX, Cincinnati, OH, East St. Louis, IL, Chicago, IL, San Antonio, TX and Raleigh, N.C. TLOD anticipates expanding their sites in other states.

Additionally, Mayor Percy Bland and First Lady Deidre Bland of Meridian, MS have implemented A-TEAAM Meridian in three middle schools in the Meridian Public Schools.

Sam Whitlow, Duane Lightfoot and the Board of Directors of the Bridging the Gap Learning Academy in Louisville, KY launched A-TEAAM Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky in 2016.

This year the A-TEAAM welcomed Cleveland, Miss to the fold.

This article originally appeared in the Mississippi Link

Commentary

Closing the Loss of Learning Reading Gap

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

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The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

By Conway Jones

Reading is the foundation of a good education and fundamental to success in life.

Can you imagine your life without reading? What if you couldn’t read well enough to follow directions, conduct your business, or even enjoy a good book?

Success starts early. Until 3rd grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, they’re reading to learn. Students who don’t achieve literacy by third grade fall behind and become bored, frustrated, and unlikely to graduate high school, much less go on to higher education.

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

This summer, they did it. RPL hired Sylvan Learning to provide 15 children, 50 hours of support education to help them achieve literacy at EnCompass Academy in East Oakland.

Sylvan Learning tested the children at the beginning of the program: they were one year to over two years behind grade level in literacy. At the end of RPL’s five-week program, 93% of the students enrolled in the RPL pilot program at EnCompass completed it and the attendance rate was 86%, or an average of 43 hours completed in the 50-hour program.

Students advanced by almost 50% of a school year to grade level. Students grew on all three components of the Sylvan Outlook Survey, indicating a 25% increase in their engagement with school, improvement in their academic perseverance, and their confidence in reading.

All of the parents surveyed indicated that the program was beneficial, that it helped their child read better, their child enjoyed the program, and their confidence in reading improved.

As the parent of one of our students put it, “If you believe in it, you can do it!”

The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

The school staff was thrilled with the overall academic improvements and is eager to partner again next spring. Based on the success last summer, Right Path to Learning will provide additional services to the Oakland Unified School District students in the advancement of its goal of ensuring that 2,000 under-resourced students reach literacy by the end of 3rd grade.

“Our children made substantial progress in confidence and in reading growth. Because of that, a student shared that she is now spending two hours at the library because she is able to read better,” said Minh-Tram Nguyen, principal at OUSD’s EnCompass Academy. “That’s a powerful testimony to the program’s success, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with Right Path to Learning,” she continued.

Right Path to Learning program will move from a Summer School program to an After School program starting January 2022.

In 10 years, these third graders will be 18-year-old adult members of our community, on their way to productive lives and life-long learning.

For more information, visit www.RightPathtoLearning.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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