Watson Grove and Gordon Memorial hold Freedom Schools Commencement Celebration

Watson Grove Senior Pastor John R. Faison Sr. leads session at Freedom School. (photo courtesy Nicole Tolliver)

Watson Grove (The Grove) joined with Gordon United Methodist Church for the commencement and closing celebration for their 2018 Freedom Schools on Friday, July 20, 2018. Scholars, parents and friends of both Freedom Schools came toether at the Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church to celebrate the completion of this year’s programs.

The Grove hosted their Freedom School, a six-week summer reading program, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund in 1995, to help increase literacy, self-esteem, socio-emotional skills, and a love of learning in children in grades K-8 at their church in Edgehill. Gordon hosted their Freedom School at their church.

The Grove has seen significant growth as their Sunday morning Children’s Church has expanded at the same rate as their normal Sunday services. In January of 2018, The Grove officially hired Minister Nikki Tolliver as their full-time Minister of Children & Youth. The additional staffing has allowed The Grove to open their doors to new programs like the Good Grounds mentoring program and Nashville Freedom School literacy program.

“Freedom School has helped me become a better person and break out of my shell,” said nine-year-old Freedom School student Makenzie. “I’m so glad Freedom School is the only summer school I’ve ever attended because it is educational but fun at the same time.”

Watson Grove Site coordinator Cynthia Anderson noted the impact Freedom School had on Makenzie’s reading comprehension skills. She has made tremendous improvements and the entire staff attributes it to how much she enjoys being at Freedom School. This is Makenzie’s fourth year as a Freedom Scholar and there has been significant growth both on an educational and a professional level. The program began on June 11 with 70 scholars, building community and engaging in literacy enhancement. Other activities focused on developing the childrens’ socio-emotional skills through activities such as art, music, drama, spoken word, dance, skill-building for nonviolent conflict resolution and impactful field trips.

The CDF Freedom Schools® program seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today. By providing summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the CDF Freedom Schools program plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps — and is a key part of CDF’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children.

The CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, increases self-esteem and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities. Since 1995, more than 137,000 preK-12 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience and more than 16,000 college students and young adult staff have been trained by CDF to deliver this empowering model.

Minister Nikki Tolliver has been a partner at The Grove for four years under the leadership of Pastor John R. Faison Sr. Minister Tolliver has led Children’s Church for two of the years she has been a partner at The Grove. Outside of her ministry work, she hosts a weekly podcast about faith outside of the church walls. Tolliver also oversees other programming tailored to children and youth

The Good Ground mentoring program is designed to cultivate, mentor, and develop youth ages 12-17 into well-rounded, Christian student-leaders through strategic exposure and education including the following four areas of concentration: Christian identity, leadership capability, personal accountability and social responsibility. The Grove holds sessions that allow participants to grow together and create dialogue.

Watson Grove Baptist Church. or The Grove, is a Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-led body of believers that serve as fertile ground for the growth of God’s people in South Nashville and beyond. We facilitate this process by engaging in the biblical functions of the Lord’s Church: pure fellowship, purposeful ministry, powerful evangelism & missions, passionate worship, and persistent discipleship. In this environment, God develops Kingdom Citizens who impact the community, the culture, and the world for His glory.

TheGrove is preparing to celebrate 129 years of growth and ministry August 4th and 5th. Join them on Saturday, August 4, from 5pm – 8pm for their Friends & Family Fun in the Park event in Edgehill Park. Check out the church website or social media feeds for more information on how you can help them celebrate.