Project T.E.A.M

The Brotherhood Journal_Project Team

Project Team

Can we educate our African American male students? Yes, we can. One community gives us glimpse of the possibilities.

Shockingly, it was learned that approximately 75% of the African-American male students who entered the Tupelo Public School District in the ninth grade would not graduate four years later. Only 25% of them would graduate.

“In fairness, some of them may take an additional year. Some of them may get their GED, but a large percent of the 75% would never graduate. Those were the number we were looking at”, says Dr. George Noflin, who at the time was Assistant Superintendent of Tupelo Public School District.

The community action that developed from that discovery documents and gives a glimpse of the possibilities of what could be if there were a sustained effort.

A community group organized to support black male students in the Tupelo Public School District. The community group was called Project T.E.A.M.

Project T.E.A.M. was born over a lunch meeting between TPSD Assistant Superintendents George Noflin and Fred Hill and the Community Development Foundation member Orlando Pannell at Down Home Cooking in Verona, Mississippi.

The three men discussed the disproportionate number of black male students who were dropping out of school, getting suspended or being assigned to the district’s alternative school.

They talked about what they could do to address the need and conceptualized an organization in which black men in the community would mentor black male students.

The organization grew to approximately 107 volunteers. As the community prepares for the upcoming school year, it is hoped that the project can get an earlier start and accomplish even more.

According to Reverend Patrick Head, Dropout / Attendance Officer Tupelo Public School District, Project T.E.A.M. is now kind of dormant but he hopes to get an earlier start this up coming year.

During the summer many of the volunteers get busy with other issues in their lives, but he still actively work the dropout issues because that is front and center of his job.

The good news is that the relatively short duration of the concentrated effort demonstrated that, yes, it can be done. We can educate our black male teenagers. It just takes organization, time and effort.

The analysis of the data to determine which students were at risk of failing, already dropped out and which were on pace to graduate was impressive.

This data allowed the Project T.E.A.M. volunteers to attack the deficient areas with the skill of a surgeon, after setting a goal to help as many seniors that had a chance to graduate.

The Project T.E.A.M. committees identified several things that could be in their way in order to pass. It could be a subject area test class that they were not passing or a senior project. The group began to pinpoint specific students and specific areas in which they needed assistance.

The committees tried to address the needs of the identified areas. The committees assigned different people to different students based upon the need to the student and the skills of the mentor.

The Brotherhood Journal_Rev Patrick Head

Rev Patrick Head

THOROUGH EDUCATION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES:  T.E.A.M.

The new community group organized to support black male students in the Tupelo Public School District. Action Plan -T.E.A.M. stands for tagging, educating, advisory, and mentoring.  Committees were set up according to the action plan. There was a committee for tagging, educating, advisory, and mentoring respectively.

Fruits of the labor

According to Rev. Patrick Head, the team analyzed the data and determined that there were sixty (60) black male senior students who were not going to graduate. “We were able to save forty five (45)”, says Rev. Head.

“I think we made a pretty good dent in the number of students who did graduate who would have failed. I think if we had done nothing, then nothing would have happened”, says Dr. George Noflin.

This change demonstrates the value of the intervention. What if this were a sustained effort over the entire twelve years of public school? President John F Kennedy once said, “Some men see things as they are and ask, Why? I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?”

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About the Author: Mr. Charles E. Harris is the Editor and Publisher of The Brotherhood Journal. He is the President of Restoration Ministries. Harris is married and has two children.

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