Elinor Ross CDF Freedom School


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Program Leadership

Amber Spears, Executive Director | 931-372-6265Amber_Spears

Dr. Spears is an associate professor of literacy methods in the College of Education at Tennessee Tech University. Dr. Spears has directed summer programming for children in Putnam County since 2017. She led Putnam County’s Ready to be Ready summer literacy camp, then began her service as the Elinor Ross CDF Freedom School project director in 2019. Dr. Spears has worked with children, families, and communities to provide high-quality experiences for children during the summer months when school is not in session.

Spears is a former elementary school teacher and is licensed in Tennessee in K–8 elementary education, PK–3 early childhood education, and PK–12 reading specialist. She holds a Ph.D. in exceptional learning, an Ed.S. in early childhood education, a master’s in curriculum and instruction, and a bachelor’s in elementary education. Dr. Spears serves on the Advisory Board for the Literacy Association of Tennessee and was the 2018 recipient of the Literacy Professor of the Year award. In 2021, she received the Hoyte Snow Literacy Leadership Award for the Literacy Association of Tennessee.

Khylah Burroughs, Co-Project Director

K. BurroughsMs. Burroughs has worked for the Elinor Ross CDF Freedom School as a Servant Leader Intern (2021), Site Coordinator (2022), and continues with us from 2023 to the present.

She graduated from Tennessee Tech University with a major in Secondary Education (English) and a Minor in History. Khylah is a member of the Tennessee Tech College of Education Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity Committee. 

Cassie Brown, Co-Project Director

Cassie BrownMs. Brown is currently a Ph.D. graduate assistant under the guidance of Dr. Amber Spears and is pursuing her doctorate in exceptional learning with a concentration in literacy. She holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction with a literacy concentration and a bachelor's in elementary education.

Cassie, previously an elementary school teacher in grades K–3, holds two licenses within the state of Tennessee, elementary education (K-5) and reading specialist (K-12). She serves as the treasurer of the Upper Cumberland Literacy Association. Her journey with the Freedom School started the summer of 2023 as a servant leader intern.

Trinity Summons, Site Coordinator

Trinity SummonsTrinity is returning for a third consecutive summer with the Ross Freedom School, first as a servant leader intern and now ascending to the role of site coordinator.

Currently pursuing a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee Tech, Trinity also brings her expertise as a dedicated 6th grade science teacher in White County. Sharing her wealth of experience and passion for education, she eagerly anticipates another summer of inspiration and growth within the program.

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