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Florissant Valley’s AAMI Students Answer the Call

February 24, 2010

l to r Andrew Spencer, Carl Woods, Keith Sayles,
Steward Stiles III, James Thomas Sr., Eric Burton, Adrian Jones

On Friday, Feb. 19, 20 students in STLCC-Florissant Valley's African-American Male Initiative Program (AAMI) traveled to Columbia Elementary School to participate in the first annual Read to a Student Day.

Columbia Elementary School, located in North St. Louis city, sent out a call requesting that African-American males volunteer to read to the students, grades 1-6. The goal was to create excitement about reading and to allow the students, who are largely African American, the opportunity to interface with strong male role models.

"When I heard that we were reading to little kids I was excited as it’s something that I enjoy doing," said AAMI student, Kennard Wells. "I hope that I’m able to influence them in a positive way."

Upon arrival at the school, the AAMI students were greeted by a Columbia Elementary representative who escorted them to the library to select a book. They were then split-up and shown the way to different classroom where children were waiting. Dozens of other African-American males from the community also participated.

"You could tell that the children wanted to be nurtured. They wanted to be guided, they wanted to the led, and they most definitely wanted to learn," recalls AAMI student, Eric Burton.

AAMI students spent an hour reading to the children and truly enjoyed the chance to make a small difference in the lives of the Columbia Elementary School students. They departed with hugs, high fives and handshakes.

"I thought it was a wonderful experience for both our members and the students of Columbia Elementary," said Keith Sayles, director of AAMI. "This is the type of event we want to do on a regular basis. I think that it’s important we give back to our community as not only students but as African-American men."

The AAMI program was created through a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the improvement of educational outcomes for African-American males. The program assists these students with specialized orientation activities, peer and community mentoring, tutoring services, special workshops and seminars.

For more information about the AAMI program, logon to www.stlcc.edu/Student_Resources/African-American_Male/ or contact Keith Sayles at 314-513-4917.

AAMI student, Steward Stiles III reads to students at Columbia
Elementary School.