Twenty-five Macon County eleventh grade students are part of a mentoring program with ten Auburn University students and graduate assistant Raven Conwell. The project is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the work these students do together revolves around workplace and college readiness.
Students who joined us on this adventure are working in part-time positions with important local community institutions, organizations and agencies including: Tuskegee University Archives, Tuskegee-Macon County Public Library, Divine Inspiration Ministries, Macon County Commission, Macon County Cooperative Extension, and Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven. Each of these groups makes significant contributions to the life and work of Macon County, and each have employees who are expert mentors to young people. For most students, these jobs are their first part-time jobs, so navigating the world of work is an adventure in itself. All of us remember our first part-time jobs, and we know these experiences taught us something important about life and work.
Young people also need to know where they are from, and Macon County has a rich history that ought to be known. We’ve had our students read the Encyclopedia of Alabama’s article on Macon County, and we’ve talked through some interesting facts. So tonight we played Jeopardy, with categories that included Tuskegee University and the cities of Tuskegee and Notasulga. Much of what we talk about is presented in the impressive Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center, which does a great job of presenting the story of Macon County and the three cultures that have shaped it: Native Americans, European Americans, and African Americans.
In addition to local history, since many of our students will take the Alabama High School Graduation Exam in March, mentor Marian Royston helped us with some categories and questions that will be on the social science/history part of the exam. Most of these questions concern things everyone in the United States ought to know, ranging from Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to important turning points in history (Civil War, New Deal, World War II, etc.). Raven even added in a category for popular culture, so Beyonce and a few other folk made it into the game as well. Students are competitive, and we want them to bring their best to either the graduation exam or ACT.