Congratulations to 2008 GCIPL Fellow Angie Major, Hopkinsville, KY for receiving the Hal & Bettye Thurmond Award! We share your story as an inspiration to others and we thank you for your dedication, intentional focus and tireless commitment to the students in Hopkinsville.
The award is named for Hal Thurmond and his wife Bettye whose work to integrate housing, lunch counters, and public schools and to improve race relations in Christian County in the 1950s and ‘60s earned them a posthumous induction into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in the fall of 2006. Owner of Blue Lake Block Co. and president of the local Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Thurmond demonstrated his commitment to the civil rights movement by helping to establish the Human Relations Commission, for which Bettye became executive director.
Angie tells us, “I participated in the CIPL program in 2008. My project was “Math and Meatballs” at Holiday Elementary. The data indicated that students that do not know their “math facts” for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division would struggle as they entered middle schools. My participation in the CIPL program gave me the basis to be able to work on future projects with CCPS students. I started in the HHS mentor program around 2006. My husband was coaching football at this time and I noticed that not many football players went on after high school to college. I asked the Family Resource Center at HHS if I could mentor with football players. As I began asking questions of the players and teacher, I found most of the ACT scores were 14-18. The football team is primarily composed of African American males. Over the last 4 years, I have been intentional to focus on each year’s seniors on the team, making sure they take the ACT additional times if their score is not an 18 or greater. I also help them fill out their FAFSA financial aid form and college applications as well. In 2014, I had 100% of the football seniors (12 in all) transition to college and play football, to college, and to the military. I call this their “Life Plan”. I am constantly asking the students their plan. I’m sure more than they would like. For the 2015 graduating seniors, 17 students transitioned – 100% again. Of the 17 seniors, 16 went on to college and one student wants to go to the police academy. I also helped out some with the basketball team this year and we had 8 seniors transition – 7 to college , 1 to the military – 100% again.
The biggest problem I have found with my students is they do not know what “college” looks like. These students do not go on college campuses for visits and are not familiar with filling out the necessary paperwork to get from here to there. I’m hoping to have a class in January to work with the seniors on filling out the FAFSA form. Guidance helps with this as well. I am constantly on the lookout for people that are interested in mentoring. I volunteer to help them if they would like to participate in the program. At HHS, the mentor/mentees meet once a month. This is a good start. I usually try to have the mentors come to the sporting events of the student. This seems to help the relationship grow.”
GCIPL Fellows tell us that the five days of training is an amazing, eye-opening experience for them as they learn how to advocate not only for their own child, but for ALL children in their schools. However, we at the Prichard Committee know that the real magic happens when Fellows go back into their schools to do a project focused on improving student achievement, engaging other families, and having a lasting impact. When that happens, Fellows continue to build capacity in their local communities to keep the public in our public schools.