An impressive group of 25 young men assembled in the media center at South Atlanta High School on March 3. They marched in with their heads held high, in crisp white shirts, neat ties, and black trousers. As they introduce themselves, they look you in the eye and have a firm handshake. They stand up and sit down in unison and refer to each other as “my brothers”. And even though there are crisp new Apple laptops at each desk along with a small gift bag, none of them touch anything until instructed to do so. There is obvious discipline, pride and excitement in the air!
The young men are all South Atlanta High School students and mentees of The Dukes Foundation. They are participating in an exciting venture meant to expose them to the latest media technology well before they enter the job market.
“This is an exciting opportunity challenging you to take charge of your world and take you outside the community,” said South Atlanta Principal Dr. Patricia Ford. “Seize the opportunity, be great everyday and believe in yourself”, she continued.
“These opportunities help us grow.
It helps us break the narrative,”Quinton C., South Atlanta HS student and The Dukes Foundation mentee
The event, a partnership between Atlanta Public Schools, The Dukes Foundation and EdFarm, was the kickoff to an 8-week program in which the students will learn to use different digital tools to create and execute a marketing campaign showcasing The Dukes Foundation.
Dukes, which stands for Developing Urban Kids with Etiquette and Self-Esteem, is an Atlanta- based youth mentoring program providing students in the community academic coaching, career development opportunities, college tours, wellness and financial literacy.
The technology is brought by EdFarm, a Birgminham, Alabama based not-for-profit that focuses on making technology accessible to all. Following their vision that “all people have access to everything they need to fill or create the jobs of the future,” with this expansion into Atlanta, they are putting the latest technology in the hands of this group of South Atlanta students.
“You are intellectual engineers!” said APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring speaking to the students, adding “You are at the right place, and you have the intellect, brilliance, creativity, motivation and innovation.”
Beth Sanders, VP of Learning at EdFarm said that every week the students will meet after school with a mentor from EdFarm or from their partner, Apple, who will guide the students in the proper use of the new technology allowing them to create and innovate their marketing strategies.
“This is a way to bring technology alive for students,” said Dr. Aleigha Henderson-Rosser, APS Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Technology. “This opportunity brings experiences to high school students, well before graduation and before they enter the workforce.”
As the session officially began the students were divided into creative teams and were directed to login to the new Macs and iPads to start their first lesson.
“This is a very special group of critical thinkers,” said APS Educational Technology Specialist Jan Dickerson, who has been working with the group for several weeks. “These students are amazing!”