Over the past few months, I have visited with several Indianola residents and have polled their thoughts about the community. Both young and old agree that education is of high priority. I personally believe that education will steer Indianola into the future and it is our responsibility to create the right path for our youth.
Dictionary.com defines education as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and the general preparing of oneself or others intellectually for mature life. I favor this overall definition, however, one aspect is missing; In the pursuit of knowledge there cannot be fear… fear of the unknown. Fore acquiring knowledge is the act of making oneself uncomfortable in the relentless and factual pursuit of those things not known or of which one has limitted knowledge or understanding. Once knowledge or understanding is reached, only then is fear overcome and growth or maturity is attained. This is what we must do for our youth… prepare them for the unknown and foster growth and maturity through education.
Now that we have defined education… what do we attack? How do we overcome fear and grow?
While at the Teach For America function Friday evening, I was fortunate to learn about the Delta Promise Community Project. The project cites education as an immediate priority and shares many of the solutions that I would like to further within the community including: family support groups, early childhood development, parenting, and after school tutoring.
Indianola has been selected to pilot the first DPC Project. The purpose is to create a path that leads a child from infancy to graduation and into the job market, and ensure that every child stays on track through every stage of his or her life. This will be a multi-year project that will include several programs which currently exist and will be implemented in phases. These programs are designed to work in tandem with each to address educational as well as social and healthcare issues of children. This is a first for the Delta and for the entire State of Mississippi.
The Delta Promise Community Project is modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City which began in 1970. The HCZ implementation process was chosen based on it’s significant results, solid implementation, management, programs, community support, and national recognition. The success of the DPC Project will be based on a full community effort as well. Indianola must work together, identify its needs, and solve them collectively.
On Thursday evening, August 20th at 5:30 pm at the Courthouse in Indianola, the Harlem Children’s Zone Program Director, Rasuli Lewis, will visit with the community. I encourage each and everyone who has children or works with young people to be in attendance. Your voice is needed to address any additional educational concerns that you may have and help shape this project.
I will have additional information as it is made available.