What a Difference a Year Makes
In the spring of 2014, purple-shirted FedEx volunteers were busy converting a science classroom at Atlanta’s KIPP Strive Academy into a fully-functional science lab. One year later, those same volunteers came back to see first-hand how well the lab is functioning by helping students dissect frogs.
“It’s incredible to see how excited the kids are about the lab,” said FedEx volunteer Michael Harper, who was part of the renovation team in 2014. “It’s so great to see how much they appreciate what we did.”
KIPP Strive Academy won a $25,000 grant from FedEx as part of a national competition in 2014 called “Countless Possibilities”, in collaboration with Teach for America. Award-winning teacher Jennifer Freeman, who happens to be a Teach for America alum, says the science lab has been a wonderful addition to the school.
“We were able to create my dream-come-true science lab,” said Ms. Freeman. “ The kids are able to learn using the proper resources and materials.”
A special guest teacher for the day was Dr. Sampson Davis, one of “The Three Doctors”, young men from a troubled Newark, New Jersey neighborhood who made a pact to help each other become doctors. They are now bestselling authors, speakers as well as physicians. Dr. Davis is an emergency room physician and says he enjoys any opportunity he has to talk to , and encourage students.
“I’m very happy to be here,” said Dr. Davis. “I’m an emergency medicine physician, and to see these students so focused already on science, it warms my heart.”
The lab and the excellent teaching of Ms. Freeman is already influencing many students to think of science-based careers.
“At first I wanted to be a journalist, and do news reports,” said 8th grader Kyra McWhorter. “But now I want to be a Medical Examiner. I like learning about biology and the human body.”
The return of the FedEx volunteers one year later was a bittersweet occasion. One of the most enthusiastic volunteers who worked on this project, Gerald Topley, passed away in April. So, to recognize his contributions, a plaque will be installed dedicating the FedEx Science Lab in his memory.
FedEx volunteer Jeff Wise was a good friend of Gerald’s and recalled how much he loved being part of the science lab project at KIPP Strive Academy. “This school and the kids here had a special place in Gerald’s heart. It’s good to know that in a way, his spirit will be here for many years to come.”