Coker Establishes Freedom School for Local Students

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – June 14, 2012 – Coker College’s Students in Free Enterprise, in partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), will host a Freedom School program on campus June 25 – Aug. 3.

“When CDF Founder and President Dr. Marion Wright Edelman visited campus last year to receive an honorary degree and deliver Coker’s Spring Commencement address, she and I had an opportunity to discuss ways for the College and CDF to partner for the benefit of local children,” said Coker College President Robert Wyatt.

“I’m thrilled that our SIFE team has taken the initiative to research the options and followed through with their plans to establish the CDF’s first Freedom School project at Coker,” Wyatt added.

“From what I’ve learned, the program has enormous potential to make a positive difference in the lives of the students it touches.  I am also willing to predict that Coker’s students will learn as much from the young students as the children learn from them.”

This six week reading-based educational summer program will serve 50 students, from kindergarten through eighth grade, and is intended to help students fall in love with reading, increase their self-esteem and generate more positive attitudes toward learning.

Children are taught using a curriculum designed by CDF that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health.

The TEACH Foundation’s PULSE initiative – working with local teachers implementing Yale University’s Comer School Development Program – Carolina Kids and other local non-profit groups have provided consultation services to the SIFE team’s student organizers of the program.  The Freedom School at Coker College is supported, in part, by Sonoco.

Seven Coker College students, who have participated in formal training with CDF in recent months, will provide site coordination and instruction for the campus program, which will run from 7:30 a.m. through 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, for the duration of the program.

The program, which is free to the children, includes all instructional materials, breakfast, lunch and daily snacks. Morning schedules include opportunities for integrated reading sessions and afternoons will be filled with activities in the arts, athletics and other educational explorations.

The schedule also includes time for a weekly meeting with parents, which organizers stress is an essential aspect of the program because it helps ensure that caretakers are engaged in the process, which is new to all concerned.

Students will be admitted to the Freedom School at Coker College on a first-come, first-served basis.  For more information, please contact SIFE Director Ben Chastain at 843-383-8361 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.


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