Those who grew up in Jonesville remember it as an especially close-knit, peaceful place. For generations, the African American neighborhood was the foundation upon which many successful lives were built.
Today, decades after its residents were displaced in the late 1950s and early 1960s to clear the way for Western Kentucky University’s expansion, Jonesville’s history and legacy are again in the spotlight with the aim of building stronger foundations for local Black and Brown children.
Presented by the youth-focused nonprofits Boys to Men Leadership Group and For A Real Change, the new Jonesville Academy is scheduled to launch this weekend. The inaugural group of more than 50 students will meet regularly on Saturdays to study reading, writing, history, culture and the science, technology, engineering and math fields, the Daily News’ Aaron Mudd reported recently.
“I hope that we change the trajectory of their futures. They’re everything we need to push this community forward,” said Tyreon Clark, who is director of the Boys to Men Leadership Group and co-founder of the Jonesville Academy along with Aurelia Spaulding, founder of For A Real Change.
Jonesville has received renewed attention in recent years, including a highly durable buon fresco recently completed at WKU’s Kentucky Museum to commemorate the neighborhood, which was located where many of WKU’s flagship athletic venues now stand. And we believe the Jonesville Academy is another important step both to remember that neighborhood and, more importantly, give today’s youngsters a better foundation for success.
The academy’s students, who will range from the third to eighth grade, will get the support of nine educators, including a mix of educators from both local public school systems, a WKU professor and a specially trained reading interventionist. The academy has also recruited mentors who will check in with students and help support them on their journey to become community leaders.
“When structuring the program we researched and then explored ways to really create a community where scholars excel,” Spaulding told the Daily News. “We believe who they learn from, where they learn, who they learn around and who holds them accountable and encourages them are keys to excelling. The academy takes all of those into account.”
To those not from Jonesville, the neighborhood might not have been valued in its own time, but the value this program can provide to our local children could be immeasurable.
“We just want to honor the legacy and rich culture and history of the community of Jonesville,” Clark said, adding there’s no better way to do that than forming a community to nurture the next generation of Black and Brown youths.
We wholeheartedly agree.