Atlanta’s Thomasville Center for Hope Director Offers Hope, Inspiration to Young People

by Shelby Lin Erdman • MAR 3, 2016

Video produced by Gordon Ray

Immanuel Reed knows first-hand just how important after school programs for children in underserved and disadvantaged communities can be. After all, the site director at the Thomasville Center for Hope, benefitted from the very same kinds of programs he now oversees, when he was young.

On any given day, a visitor to the center in the Thomasville Heights neighborhood in southwest Atlanta, might see dozens of children engaged in any number of wide-ranging activities, from studying and homework, to sports and fun physical activities, to art and sewing, or even gardening.

“We have approximately 100 kids, who arrive daily,” Reed said. “And we give them a full day until the time they are dismissed at 8.”

When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me

The Thomasville Center of Hope, which operates in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, is part of a pledge and an initiative by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed that started when he was running for mayor in 2009. Then-candidate Reed pledged to reopen all of the city’s 33 community recreational centers, which had been closed down due to a lack of funding. Of those 33 recreational centers, 10 were identified as so-called “Centers of Hope” and Thomasville was one of them.

Mayor Reed’s Centers of Hope program for children included five requirements that form the basis of each center: academic enrichment, character leadership, health and fitness, technology, and community.

The first order of business when the kids arrive at Thomasville is 30 to 40 minutes of homework, according to director Reed.

“From there the kids are participating in various programs, from educational programs to health and PE programs. We have a garden program and we have a STEMS program. We have a ton of things, a ton of enrichment programs that these kids are participating in.”

“A Center of Hope is a high-performing recreation center with enhanced youth development programming,” according to the City of Atlanta.

Thomasville was one of the first two centers to open under the mayor’s initiative to reopen the city’s rec centers and it was designated as a Center of Hope.

But for director Immanuel Reed, the club offers more than fun activities and a way for parents to keep their children out of trouble after school.

“For me it’s easy to talk about the good things,” Reed explained.

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“But for kids to see older kids who have gone through this program and that are from this neighborhood, to see them make it, it pushes them. It inspires them,” he added.

But what it really boils down to for Reed is this: “When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me.”

And that is why Immanuel Reed is an American Graduate Champion.

PBA's Atlanta Champions

 
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Scott Allen

"He is such a dedicated teacher who says that he is awed by his students’ creativity and original thought."

   
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Mouhammed Bah

"I think education brings more wealth to being successful than any other thing in life."

   
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Travis Brown

"He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn."

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Atia Butts

"You always want to have the mindset of succeeding and if you know the people around you are not going down that path then do your best to be nice, be cordial, but distance yourself from those".

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Kim Bearden

"No child should ever be allowed to be invisible in a classroom."

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Barry Blackmon

"I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor."

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Meria Carstarphen

"We really want parents to help us get children in school, on time, every single day and that starts with getting up and making sure they can get out of the house on time, into the bus or walking to school."

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Ron Clark

"We’re trying to lift the spirits of our students so they’ll be excited and they’ll be eager to learn."

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Megan Gilroy

"Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing."

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Dave Howland

"Literally every single grade a kid gets in high school has an impact on their future trajectory. So making sure that that’s a big piece, helps them stay on track to graduate."

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Kesha Payne

"Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind."

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Immanuel Reed

"When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me."

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Dan Sims

"The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame."

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Amber Stewart

"The success of a student hinges on the teacher that’s standing in front of that classroom and hinges on the school leader that’s running that school."

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Darryl Terry

"As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out."

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Stuart Thorn

"We’ve been able to take the graduation rate for this cohort of kids up from probably what would have been in the neighborhood of five to 15 percent up to now above 85 percent."

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Dennis Tolliver

"He captures his students’ attention and they hold on to every word that he says because they know what he gives will truly benefit their lives."

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Jayongela Wilder

"There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college."