This year’s A-TEAAM “Choose To Grow” Mentor of the Year for Blackburn Laboratory Middle School is Synarus Green, a supporter of the whole child approach. As a former public school teacher and director of a youth enhancement program, Green has positively impacted the lives of thousands of youth. He has led and supported several youth enrichment programs besides Choose to Grow, including Sigma Beta Club, Operation Shoestring of Jackson, Boys & Girls Club (Jackson/Hattiesburg), Youth Challenge Program (Camp Shelby, MS), Police Athletics League, Boy Scouts of America, and Watch Dads of Great Students (D.O.G.S.) Program. Green has also supported legislation that establishes community schools, revamps Mississippi accountability system from testing to learning, and establishes statewide trauma-informed practices/standards.
“In order to prepare our students to compete in a global society we must be willing to address the issues facing our students both in and out of the classroom. Supporting efforts that speak to the needs of the whole child increases our students’ chances for success,” said Green.
The A-TEAAM (Ambassadors of the Evers Academy for African American Males) held its annual Choose To Grow National Youth Leadership Summit June 8-10, 2023, at the Sheraton Hotel in Flowood, MS. During the three-day event, scores of students participated in sessions on youth development, toured the Two Mississippi Museums, attended the Medgar and Myrlie Evers 60th Anniversary Gala looking debonair and enchanting in attire provided by the Walmart Foundation and Senator John Horhn, and squeezed in a little time to hit the arcade rooms set up just for their enjoyment!
The A-TEAAM is under the auspices of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute and the Juanita Sims Doty Foundation. Dr. Karla McCullough serves as executive director; Will Jemison is board director; and founder, Dr. Juanita Sims Doty continues to contribute vastly as mentoring coordinator.
One of the highlights of the summit was an awards ceremony to celebrate the 10th anniversary of A-TEAAM. Among the presentations was the inaugural Thea Bowman Mentor of the Year Award by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from Lacrosse, WI. Television anchors Erin Pickens, Howard Ballou, Maggie Wade-Dixon, and Byron Brown, and Black Press publishers Jackie Hampton and Alice Thomas-Tisdale were recognized for consistent media coverage of the program since it took flight in 2013. The Jackson, MS based program now touts a girls component and has active chapters in several states across the nation, plus an alliance with Top Ladies of Distinction whose national president, Sharon Beard, was in attendance.
The awards program also honored A-TEAAM Ambassadors (male) and ESTEEM GEMS (female) students, their affiliated chapters, school mentors/tutors, funding partners (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, MSDH, Moriah Group, and Forward Promise), and collaborating partners (Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute, the Kirkland Group, and the Lighthouse Black Girls Project) who all embrace A-TEAAM’s motto, “Choose to Grow!”
(Photos: Jay D. Johnson)