The Leaders Apprentice program recently completed its second year at J.W. Stampley 9th Grade Academy and has a focus on increasing student enrichment.
Former Clarksdale Municipal School District superintendent Donnell Harrell and District 4 Coahoma County Supervisor Johnny Newson are leading the program with 16 students. The students who were involved this past year are Makiya Bolden, Trevon Boulton, Amaya Brown, Destiny Earl, Truett Harris, Kayla Hawkins, Joshua Hollins, Breanna Jones, Jo’Wani Jones, Kalyn Jordan, TaNasha Lewis, Jamylia Milton, Chelniah Pollard, Marchellos Scott, India Thomas and Ariel White.
“Once we achieve a certain level in our own lives, we want to give back to the community being a former educator,” Harrell said. “The kids need a lot of help, so we chose one of our schools.”
The goal was to get a diverse group of students who met with Harrell and Newson every other Thursday for 45 minutes with 10 minutes to ask questions.
“We have people to come in and talk to the kids from different professions,” Harrell said.
Speakers included Dr. William Booker from the Aaron E. Henry Health Center, CMSD assistant superintendent Toya Harrell-Matthews, who is Harrell’s granddaughter, Clarksdale High School assistant principal Wesley Love, educator Josephine Rhymes on ways of doing things, Rosie Sumlin from First National Bank, Otis Stanford, a retired educator in counseling and psychology professor at Coahoma Community College and Metropolitan Baptist Church pastor along with former Coahoma Early College High School principal I.D. Thompson.
“Our involvement is kind of limited because of the testing schedule they have to do,” Harrell said. “Of course, I go back to the purpose now. It’s really to provide enrichment activities for the students they may not get in the regular classroom setting.”
One of the lessons was the 10 rules of survival, if stopped by a police officer. One rule is putting and leaving hands on the steering wheel. Former Coahoma County sheriff Andrew Thompson came and spoke about it last year.
“You have to take in consideration that the officer is in charge,” Newson said. “Therefore, there’s certain things that he’s going to expect of you. As long as you obey and provide the protocol as to his stopping procedure, then you’ve got a good chance of being OK.”
The plan is to expand the Leaders Apprentice program.
“We will actually take the students off site,” Newson said. “We’ve got to work those particulars out, but that is something also to provide enrichment for them by taking them to different environments.”
Of all the programs Newson and Harrell have put together in the past, the 2017-18 Leaders Apprentice was one of the best.
“As the years get by, they get more mature,” Newson said. “The first year, we had a group we really had to work on. The second year, the group was a more calm group that was interested in taking information.”
Newson said the goal is to increase participation in the community and have more schools involved.