Q&A with Anyea Gibson
Site Coordinator
Thomasboro Freedom School Site
How long have you been a part of the Freedom School family?
My first experience with Freedom School was in 2007. I was an Intern in Hickory going into my senior year of college at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Two of my professors recruited me. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It only happened on year in Hickory, but I knew as soon as I found another location I would be signing up!!

Tell us about why you chose to serve as a Site Coordinator with FSP this summer.
I wanted to be with Freedom School in any capacity. Site Coordinator allowed me to be around all the scholars, in all levels, all day, as well as use my leadership skills to help interns who plan to go into education in the future.

Why is summer learning important to you?
I taught elementary school for 14 years before moving to high school. I have witnessed what can happen when I child does not read during the summer. Summer regression is a real thing and Freedom School does a great job making reading fun while allowing children to see themselves in the books they are reading.

Why do you feel it is vital to the Charlotte community?
There are not many affordable reading enrichment programs for our youth in this area. Freedom School allows ALL students, no matter the circumstance, to attend a reading program that is NOT the “sit and get” model. It also allows students to meet individuals from THEIR community through read aloud guest and other volunteers.

How have you been personally impacted by FSP?
When I first encountered Freedom School and attended training at the Alex Haley Farm, I was in awe! To see so many other college students who looked like me, wanting to help other scholars who look like them, brought so much joy to my heart. Being able to share books with students who have characters who look like them by authors who look like them is the most amazing thing. I watched as kids went to grab a book about a particular hobby of theirs being done by someone who looked like them. How cool is that? As a child I never read a book about a black ballerina. Freedom School makes that possible for these children.

Freedom School made me a better teacher. I wanted my students to feel the way I did at training in my classroom each and every day. I just finished my 16th year of teaching, and many of the things I learned at Freedom school is still implemented in my class today!

When you think about Freedom School, how do you envision it in the future?
As I sit and watch these scholars during Harambee and IRC, I know our future is in good hands. To see their eyes light up when we sing “Something Inside so Strong” or when we allow them to take control during Harambee is a beautiful sight to see. These scholars are motivated and proud of themselves. So often our youth have the “I did it didn’t I” attitude and could care less about the quality of what they produced. Freedom School does a wonderful job helping children work through that attitude. By allowing these children to see themselves in the books they read or the leadership in front of them, it creates a sense of pride; A sense of “Hey, I can do that too!” Watching the scholars beam when they finish a book by themselves or an activity shows me that Freedom School is the place to be!