The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor y.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013
MFP 089 Interviewee: Justine Mo ser Interviewer: Candi ce Ellis Date: September 22, 2011 E: This is Cand i ce Ellis on Sep t ember 22, 2011 at the Sunflower County Freedom School. I f you would please introduce yourself. M: My name is Justine Moser. Do you need me to spell it, or no? E: Spell the last name. M: Moser, M o s e E: [Laugh ter ] Al l I guess, how did you get involved with this? And maybe just even expl ain kind of, what this is about what this program is about. M: Okay S o th fold question. I c ame down to Mississippi in 2008 taught in a nearby town for about two years and I decided that I wanted to stay and I really wanted to be i nvolved in education, but I wanted to see if I could find a no n profit program where I could teach and all that stuff. So I just happened to hear about the Sunflower County Freedom Project, that they were having a them over the couple the last couple of years But when I discovered more about the program, I was really excited about getting the opportunity to apply for the job. And what the Freedom Project is : to be a six yea r program for incoming seventh graders up until they graduate from high school W e do after school tutoring, Saturday school, and we have an intensive two month
MFP 089; Moser; Page 2 summer program E verything about it is to provide them with study skills an d nd have them learn about their c ivil r ights history. A ll of that just kind of culminates into getting them ready for college. And I just heard about that and I was just so excited, an d luck would have it I got the job. So E: How many people do they employ here? M: It is just me, the program director, and Nick right now. We are in the process of getting an Ameri C orp s Vista for November for a year. B ut at one time there were four peopl E: And is this officially a non profit organization? M: Yes we are, we are officially a non profit We are non government funded W e are privately funded through grants and personal donations. E: Okay. S o kind of give me an example of how you would maybe apply for a grant, or how you guys reach out into the community for personal donations, just to get an i dea of how this place is funded and is able to be self sustaining. M: Well, Nick will actual ly know a whole lot more about that because he does the actual grant stuff, but so, we apply vigorously all throughout the year, places like the Knight Foundation, UPS has a really big grant program. But the bulk, besides the grants, the bulk of our fundin g does come from our personal donors. And we just have really extensive campaigns; we send out newsletters every month, we do donor calls all the time just to kind of touch base with previous donors. A nd
MFP 089; Moser; Page 3 we just have a really strong donor base, both here i n Mississippi and then in larger cities across the nation like Washington D. C. and Houston. So I guess we just and we have the kids write post cards throughout the year, and they people love that. E very now and then we have the kids call and they love t hat Freedom Fellows? about what we need and how we appreciate them. So a strong relationship. E: ly two staff members right now. H ow many kids do you have in enrollment? M: It fluctuates right now with the beginning of the year and kids coming in and out, but we have about twenty five to thirty kids right now. E: Okay, so how do you guys kind of manage twenty five different kids who are all on different levels between the two of you? M: Mh mm, yeah. I mean that definitely does sound like quite a struggle. So what we do is, we divide them by their year. So our sev enth graders are our fi rst years, and our second years are our eighth graders, and it kind of goes up from there. So for our study sessions we divide them by gender. So the girls are in the green room and the boys are in the red room, and then our older kids, third year and up, are in the blue room, so freedom. But tha them, and the trouble about that behaviorally. A nd I guess the good thing about our study sessions is
MFP 089; Moser; Page 4 all on different levels, but we all have time to give them that individual attention and tutoring that they need. E: Do you guys do a lot of tutoring? M: Yeah I mean hours every day of them doing their homework or doing our enrichment activities, and then the last hour of our daily progra m, we do some sort of fun class like hip hop class or improv class or P.E. But the bulk of it is tutoring and studying. E: Yeah S o I asked earlier for maybe just a quick summary of wh at is an average day here like. You know, how does the schedule flow? M: Oh, with the kids. E: Mm hm. M: So, I usually pick up kids in Indianola and Moorhead around betw een 4:00 and 4:30. S o we get here at 4:30 ; the Sunflower kids are waiting outside and we all come in and they go to their separate boy, girl, older kids rooms, and the y write down their homework on P ost its, and so we start our two hours of study session then. Then we have a little ten minute bre ak. S ometimes , throwing a ball around or whatever, and then we have that one class that rotates. Mondays Tuesdays ; Wednesday is oral kind of the daily schedule. And then Saturdays it goes from 9:00 to 1:00 and basically the bulk of that is we have our novel study W e have a novel study that
MFP 089; Moser; Page 5 we do every Saturday. T hen w e do ACT prep for all of the kids, and then we have one hour at the end where we have special programming where we have a guest speaker or we get invited to go somewhere and pick up trash in the community; enriching. E: Okay How long h as this kind of been a program? M: I always get this wrong. E: [ Laughter ] Even a guess. M: E: Okay A nd the main objective is to get kids to college and have them right ? Is that generally successful? M: Yes. One hundred percent of the kids that complete our program, like all six years, go to college. E: Oh my goodness. M: So me right now, but their ACT scores are a certain percentage higher than even kids at the academies. Their grade point averages grow a certain amount over E: Oh
MFP 089; Moser; Page 6 M: I feel terrible. But yeah, they do improve ; I mean pro ve them over time. It was originally started by Teach for America alumni who saw the need that our students are not getting what they need to go to college. They originally wanted the Freedom Project to be a school, but Mississippi has wonderful legislatio school and all that, I think that works as well though, too. E: Right. Is the ultimate goa l to get this to be a charter school? In a tr aditional 9:00 to 3:00 kind of . M: I think t hat that was the original dream in the beginning. I think it would be a wonderful opportunity, but so many things would have to happen that we have no control o f. I mean we could run our heads into the ground trying to make this a T hat would be something that the founders would have to decide, completely change our model. But it would be wonderful if it could be a school. E: How do you guys recruit from the schools? Is there any tactic that you employ to get kids interested? Is it word of mouth? M: A lot of it is word of mouth ; kids bring their friends. But a lot of it is just being like extremely persistent and going in and talking to teachers and following up with people A nd after a kid comes one time, going to their house and calling them and bugging them, or picking them up off the street if you see them walki ng down just kind of
MFP 089; Moser; Page 7 being aggressively persistent is how I find it works to get kids to come. But yeah, we just go to the schools W e do whatever we can to get them to come here. E: What are you r interactions like with their parents? Are people receptive, or . ? M: Yeah, they generally are T he parents are serendipitous, a little odd sometimes, how trusting they are of us. They just they trust us with their childre n, and they let us take their kids on camping trips and all these great experiences, so doing with their kids T hey like that they have something to do after school and can see noticeable differences. So, y eah, we have really good relationships with our parents. E : questions? Melanie Wilmoth Navarro : I have a question. This is Melanie, and I work for Friends of J I was here for another reason ; I work for an organization in Texas. M : Oh okay. Melanie Wilmot h Navarro : We just h appened to meet up with them and so I ve been kind of following along and listening to their oral history stuff It s really interesting. But I just was is the progr am completely free for the kids ? O r is it like a sliding scale type thing, or .
MFP 089; Moser; Page 8 M: Yeah, T when our founders, Chris Myers As c h and Shawn Raymond and Greg Costa were coming up with the idea for the Freedom Project, they were advised by several people in the community that, if you give this type of opportunity away for free S o we do charge a tuition for our students. And some people sometimes take that in a negative way I to me mon ey on our part at all, but it teaches responsibility and we give kids several opportunities throughout the year to raise their own tuition. T les, we do recruitment fundraisers, and a lot of the kids really take that and they understand that I have the power to not be a burden to my parents and I can raise all this on my own. W e had several kids this summer, just with donuts alone, who raise d all the money for th eir tuition for this whole year have to worry about it again. So, I think that having tuition teaches responsibility and it makes it more of a serious commitment I t also teaches them, if you want something in life I mean nna to have to pay to go to college. So, yeah. E: M: That s okay. It is three hundred dollars a year. So making bank or anything like that E: and you can use that to buy all the novels and all the because what kind of scholarship opportunities do you know of in Mississi ppi?
MFP 089; Moser; Page 9 Cause I know we have a program i n Florida called Bright Futures Mississippi does anything like that, for students. M: unfortunate ly school ing kids ready to go to college E Yeah, kind of I be t finding scholarships for them t hrough the state, at that level c Bright Futures, right? Josh Moore : Through the Florida Lottery. E: Yeah. M: too [Laughter] Yeah our education is funded through the lottery. E: a nything that stands out that maybe we left out? M: No I E: want you to ramble M: I just my voice is quavering and none of my words make sense. I m sorry.
MFP 089; Moser; Page 10 E: No like. But I guess Josh Moore : W ith these it s not to be a strict rule of questions more once you start getting into it but ion between two E: Yeah T his is such an incredible organization, and the stuff that you guys are M: Yeah, well t hank you. I would have to agree [Laughter] [End of interview] Transcribed by: Anna Armitage, January 17, 2014 Audit edited by: Diana Dombrowski, January 24, 2014 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski, January 24, 2014