Wayne County schools to encourage students to seek college scholarships
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 12, 2013 1:46 PM
The Wayne County Public Schools is engaged in a year-long push to educate students and their parents about the availability of college scholarships.
The campaign started last spring, when the district invited Mychal Wynn to speak at a parents conference, said Debbie Ogburn, director of federal programs.
The Atlanta-based author, who overcame poverty and educational obstacles to become a success and now travels the country encouraging others to do the same, struck a chord with his remarks.
He told gatherings of parents that there are many scholarship opportunities available and emphasized the importance of preparing students to receive them, starting as early as elementary school.
Wynn has been invited to conduct several presentations during this school year. Sessions for the public that involve churches and civic groups are also planned, along with lessons incorporated in the classrooms at four area schools -- Carver Elementary, Brogden Primary, Carver Heights Elementary and Mount Olive Middle.
"Our initiative here is we're working on community engagement," Mrs. Ogburn said. "We're trying to get our faith-based organizations and any other organizations in Wayne County to help our students."
Wynn's book, "Follow Your Dreams," is being used as a teaching tool in the schools, Mrs. Ogburn said, with talking points drawn from its pages such as, "While you do not get to choose where you begin in life, you get to choose where you aspire to go in life."
"We really want to reach out to our children," she said. "We really want everyone to know no matter what poverty level they're at, they can go to college. We're trying to get our children to learn that it doesn't matter where they come from."
During Wynn's public presentations, he outlines a plan for preparing students for college or careers beginning in elementary school, highlights some ideas on the types of courses students should take in working toward earning scholarship funds. He also talks about ways to improve scores on ACT and SAT tests.
The information is valuable and attainable, said Tomekia Hutchins, Title I parent facilitator for the district.
"We're trying to reach the students and send that message through another avenue because they may listen to a pastor or a community member," she said.
"That you can move beyond, and you want them to move beyond because we want Wayne County to succeed," Mrs. Ogburn added. "We just want all the students to know that there's another avenue out there for them."
In addition to the four targeted schools, a one-day session is also being planned at Spring Creek Elementary in January.
Remaining public sessions for the 2013-14 school year are planned for Jan. 30, March 20 and May 15.
The Jan. 30 event will be held at Dillard Middle School. Open to faith-based and community leaders, parents and other interested stakeholders, information and training will center around scholarship preparation.
On March 30, the annual districtwide spring parent seminar will be held at the Dillard Alumni building.
The initiative will culminate on May 15 at Stoney Creek Church, with additional information and training, as well as providing discussion of a plan of action for next year.
The lessons being incorporated at the schools and the parent and public empowerment meetings are designed not only to enhance awareness but to make a connection between today's learning and tomorrow's opportunities, Ms. Hutchins said.
"What I want is for the community to come together. This is an opportunity or all of us to impact our own futures because if we can break them out of that (obstacles), they're going to be contributing members of society," she said.