AFLC, Life lessons

Published 8:02 pm Monday, June 28, 2004

By By Lindsey Sherrill
"Without an education you will go whichever way the winds blow. With an education you have the knowledge to choose your direction."
This quote greets visitors to the Atmore Family Life Center as they enter the Wizard of Oz themed hallway of the old Escambia County Middle School on MLK Avenue.
The hallway, painted by art teacher Karla Maxwell and her students, is part of AFLC's theme, "Follow the yellow brick road to learning."
The center, directed by sisters Lillie Johnson and Yvonne Johnson Grissett, opened in January 2000 to provide free learning opportunities for children from five-years-old through high school. The center operates year round, with the summer camp program running through June and July. The program runs Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Academic classes are taught from 8 a.m. to noon with extracurricular activities offered from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are also served. Currently, there are 142 children enrolled in academic programs with more taking part in the extracurricular activities. There are 20 people on staff including eight certified teachers.
"The program is growing by leaps and bounds," Marion White, who teaches language at the center, said.
In addition to language, the center also offers classes and extracurricular programs in math, science, art, choir and character education. The character education classes, taught by AFLC teacher and board member Leetha Walker, teach etiquette, character and manners.
"They learn manners and the little things-hygiene, eating manners, learning to sit at the table. This is an interesting age group to work with. They seem kinda hungry for it," Walker said.
The center is currently working on a science observation room to enhance the science classes, Grissett said. The room will have a reptile wall, sea life wall, and various animals and insects for observation.
In addition to all the programs for the children, AFLC also offers adult learning opportunities. The GED and exit exam program, led by Mary Lawson, teaches different levels in science, math, language, social studies as well as GED preparation for adults and high school students. AFLC has also tutored college students. A computer lab with 18 laptops and 6 desktops is open for adult technology classes. Two senior citizen areas are set up in the center with television, music, games and fellowship opportunities.
"We would love to have the senior citizens come," Johnson said.
The center has begun offering parenting classes as well.
"We have young kids who are having kids and who don't know how to be parents. We have the classes to help them," Johnson said.
AFLC is funded almost exclusively by private donations. Much of the money comes from private donors in the Brewton area, as well as from grants by the Poarch Creek Indians and First National Bank. Several area churches also donate to the center.
For more infromation on AFLC or to find out how you can help, call 446-1878.

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