SSSP HISTORY

Seventy-six typical active teen-age youth sacrificing six weeks of a summer vacation or perhaps meaningful employment to engage in a program of intensive study is hardly expected of the stereotype of today's adolescents. However, such a program was actually initiated at Boggs Academy in Keysville, Georgia.


 

In 1961, the Board of National Missions of the United Pres­byterian Church in the U. S. A. , interested in implementing a sincere desire to promote a true Christian educational philosophy, established an Educational Counseling Service to assist deserving youth in gaining certain educational advantages. This Service, under the direction of Dr. Ernst H. Suerken, provided specific assistance to students from educationally and culturally deprived backgrounds and focused attention on the Negro youth of southeastern United States, the Spanish American youth of the Southwest, and the Indian Americans of the Southwest.

 

Three field counselors were appointed to give special attention to the various problems of these groups. As an appointed counselor for the southeastern United States, Mr. Samuel H. Johnson initiated a program of cooperative planning whereby numerous educators and lay leaders of various communities developed a proposal for a special summer school program for high potential but under achieving high school minority youth. This proposal, designed to provide basic ­instruction in the fundamental learning skills, gained support of the Educational Counseling Service and formulated the following objectives:

 

1. to help youth find God's will through varied experiences of life

2. to identify talented students and provide support for their continued educational efforts

3. to improve skills such as mathematics, language arts, library usage, and reading

4. to aid students in effective group living

5. to provide creative expression, appreciation for beauty, and wholesome use of leisure time

6. to develop a positive attitude toward educational experiences

7. to develop leadership potential

8. to create a greater awareness of the world about

9. to develop an attitude of intellectual curiosity and individual growth.

 

The Educational Counseling Service agreed to assume the major financial responsibility for the initial venture. Some additional support was given by the Laundry, Cleaning and Linen Workers International Union, Local 218. Thinking beyond immediate assistance in today's youth, the leadership hoped to provide an educational experience which would have value in a "multiplier fashion" --by aiding fifty students to­day, each of these students would be able to assist many more students in the years ahead. Therefore, the program was designed to reach those students of college ability potential who, at their present stage of development, lacked the necessary background and skills to gain college admission or to compete successfully at the collegiate level. So that participants might have time for further development and re­finement of skills learned during the program, it was decided that participants should be students who would be entering their senior year of high school. Although not excluding any deserving student, primary consideration was given to rural and small town youth who usually do not have the advantages of children in large municipalities.

 

Many people were involved in the early planning stages of this program and under the coordination of Mr. Samuel H. Johnson, details of a program were developed for the first Summer Study-Skills Program (SSSP). A site was selected, a faculty and staff were appointed and materials were procured. High school principals, guidance counselors, and parents were solicited for nominations for the first class.

 

Thirty-two students were ultimately invited to be the first participants of a one month Summer Study-Skills Program to be held at Boggs Academy in Keysville, Georgia. This school, owned and operated by the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. , provided the facilities--classrooms, housing, boarding arrangements and recreational areas for this new adventure in learning. The Program was held from June 16 to July 15, 1961.
 

Encouraged by the general student reception and success of the initial project, a second program was conducted. In addition to the major support of the Educational Counseling Service and the continued assistance of Local 218 of the International Union of Laundry, Cleaning and Linen Workers, the Southern Education Foundation assisted in sponsoring and supporting the program. This project, the Tri-State Summer Study-Skills Program, was conducted at Knoxville College, Knoxville, Tennessee and enrolled a larger group--a group of fifty-two students. Many of the operational activities and procedures paralleled those of the previous year. The SSSP served over 500 students from 1961-1968.

 

The third Summer Study Skills Program (SSSP) reunion was held in Atlanta, Georgia. At the conclusion of the business meeting on Saturday, August 29, 1998, a steering committee was formed to synthesize the suggestions made and to identify next steps for continuing the SSSP legacy. The steering committee developed a resolution to continue the SSSP legacy by establishing a foundation to support various initiatives, such as student scholarships and programs that embody the SSSP program objectives. The full body of SSSPers at the reunion passed the resolution that the foundation would be launched if one-half of those in attendance contributed $100 or more before December, 1998. The goal was achieved and the Samuel H. Johnson SSSP Foundation was established. The first officers of the Foundation were Mark Clark, President; Joe Cleveland,1st Vice-President; LaMarian Hayes-Wallace, 2nd Vice-President; Stella Gardner Murray, Secretary; Katherine Wilson, Treasurer. By September of 2001 the Foundation was incorporated and had tax-exempt status.

The Samuel H. Johnson SSSP Foundation, Inc. was established as a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization in 1999.  Its mission is to continue the legacy of Samuel H. Johnson by providing scholarships to undergraduate minority students who need financial assistance to complete their college education.  The goal of the Foundation is to assist talented students in the Southeast who need financial assistance to complete their college education.