top of page

The Freedom Schools Story

The Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) Freedom Schools® program is a free six-week long summer enrichment program where scholars are immersed in reading, comprehension, and critical thinking for 3-hours each morning. The program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, cultivates positive attitudes toward learning, and reduces summer reading loss—one of the major challenges affecting poor and working-class children. With the help of a researched-based curriculum that is based on culturally responsive books that reflect their own images and caring and supportive college students that serve as teachers, Freedom Schools successfully address summer reading loss and a related decrease in students’ motivation to read.
 
In addition to offering high-quality academic enrichment, CDF Freedom Schools supports children and families in the areas of parent and family involvement, civic engagement and social action, intergenerational leadership development, and health -- physical, mental, and nutritional. With the support of caring adults and communities we will aid our children’s successful journey into adulthood.

The scholars we serve at the CDF Freedom Schools are primarily children who are members of underserved families. Attending our school is FREE for all families. We serve scholars in Kindergarten through 8th grade. We create a fun learning environment in every classroom where the child-to-teacher ratio is 10:1.

The teachers at Freedom Schools, our next generation of leaders, are college students and recent college graduates. We invest in them by providing them training at the annual Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute that is held at the CDF Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tenn. and at facilities in Knoxville, Tenn. We call our teachers Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) and the knowledge and experience they receive at the Training Institute prepares them well to teach the program and advocate for children.

Our sites in Knox and Blount counties host up to 50 scholars, 5 Servant Leader Interns, and a Site Coordinator. Scholars receive breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day, one field trip per week, and a variety of afternoon activities including STEM, financial literacy, drumming, fitness, self-care, phonics, and art.

Freedom Summer Book
Have You Filled a Bucket Today Book
Mae Among the Stars
Sonia Sotomayor
Courage Book
Before She Was Harriet
Harvesting Hope
Sonia Sotomayor
Kids with Courage
March - Book One
Freedom Summer
Carter Reads the Newspaper
What if Everybody Did That_
Teen Guide to Global Action
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes
ETFS - Books Cluster
Twenty-Two Cents
Sit-In
Miss Tizzy
Suki_s Kimono
Uncle Jed_s Barbershop
Each Kindness
Be the Change
The Other Side
The Remember Balloons
Have You Filled a Bucket Today_
A Shelter in Our Car
Gandhi
The Can Man
Calling the Water Drum
Smoky Night
Tomas and the Library Lady
As Good As Anybody
Let the Children March
Ruth and the Green Book
Desmond and the Very Mean Word
Eleanor
Just Because I Am
The Proudest Blue
Mae Among the Stars
One Hen
Freedom On The Menu
Whoever You Are
The Day Gogo Went to Vote
Granddaddy_s Turn
Home To Medicine Mountain

See The Faces of
East Tennessee Freedom Schools

ETFS - 2023 - L3 STEM Briefing with Panel
ETFS - Boy Talk with 100 Black Men - 2023
ETFS - Family Engagement Workshop
Read Aloud - Tyvi & Tammi
ReadAloudGuest - Joshalyn with Scholar
Freedom Schools - Civic Engagement - NDSA - Voting
Read Aloud - Bob Thomas
ETFS - Scholars at Main Event - prepping for zip line 3
ETFS STEAM Night - Cameron & Mom, Iris
EKFS - Doctor Scholars
STEAM NIght w_ muse
Read Aloud - Summer Moore
EastTNFreedomSchools - D.E.A.R. Time 2 ALL
Donde & Green Scholars
ETFS - L3 STEM Team
Muse 2017 - Ronnie & Jamerson
ETFS - 100 Black Men - 2- 2023
ETFS - PSCC SP - Group Pic - June 2023
ETFS 2023 - On the Lake
Juneteenth Parade
ETFS - Green Site Women

Making an Impact: Stories from Past Staff

Lexi Harless

Site Coordinator

Sierra Porto-Siurano

Site Coordinator

Kaitlyn Foust

Servant Leader Intern

Jalen Jones

Servant Leader Intern

MEET THE STAFF

Denise Dean - Headshot - 2019.jpeg

Denise J. Dean

Executive Director

Evetty Satterfield

Freedom Schools Literacy Curriculum Consultant

T'Aisa Hobdley

Project Director

Executive Director

Denise J. Dean

Freedom Schools Literacy Curriculum Consultant

Evetty Satterfield

T'Aisa Hobdley

Project Director

Site Coordinators &
Servant Leader Interns (SLI)

Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy 1

Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy 2

Pellissippi State Community College - Magnolia Campus

Eagleton College & Career Academy

Site Testing Managers & Researchers

Dr. Zoi Traga-Philippakos

(UT - CEHHS)

Researcher

bottom of page