The AFSA General Executive Board had the opportunity to visit Bertha Gilkey PAMOJA Elementary/Middle Academy of the St. Louis Public Schools District during the GEB meeting.
PAJOMA is located on the north side of St. Louis, in the heart of the city, with a population of 398 Preschool through 8th grade students. It has a community based enrollment, and any student in the St. Louis City may attend.
The tour was arranged by AFSA General Vice President, Dr. Cynthia Warren, Carey Cunningham, President of and Principal of the Administrators Association of the St. Louis Public Schools (AFSA Local 44), and Sean Nichols, Principal at PAMOJA, and Vice President of AFSA Local 44.
The visit began with a warm welcome by Principal Nichols and his outstanding support staff, followed by a video explaining more about PAMJOA, its vision and its direction. PAMOJA, which means “together”, is an African-centered teaching and learning school. It has the same curriculum, standards, and assessments as all other St. Louis Public Schools, but with an additional focus on learning about African history, personal identity, personal development, and cultural identity.
The AFSA GEB members were then broken into groups of three, to visit different classrooms and to learn about the various lessons. Following the classroom visits, the groups returned to report what they had experienced and learned. It was clear that all were overwhelmed by the sense of family, togetherness and joy that the students and staff shared. PAMOJA is undoubtedly a beacon of excellence, as evidenced by the breaking news reported to the group during the meeting, that the school received the third highest rating in the county!
At the conclusion of the school visit, AFSA President Diann Woodard thanked Principal Nichols and President Cunningham for their excellent work and hospitality. She then proudly presented Principal Nicholas with a gift to assist PAMOJA with their educational efforts, and to show AFSA’s appreciation for the unforgettable experience.