Minorities in AP returns to support students of color

Madison Dias

Minorities in AP (MAP) is returning to Wilson after being discontinued a few years ago. The program encourages inclusivity and equity in advanced courses by offering peer tutoring for all students, specifically targeting Black and Latinx populations. 

“[MAP’s] goal is to [ensure] that every student has the same ability to achieve success within Wilson, regardless of their race,” Program Leader and Junior Shaina Adams said. MAP aims to attain said goal by providing extra assistance, both academically and socially, to disadvantaged student groups. 

“Not every student in the school is going to have the same access to resources, studying materials, time, like other students will, and frankly, in [communities of color], we have a lot of things to handle outside of school with our families,” Program Leader and Junior Jean-Pierre Roberts said. 

An interest meeting for potential mentors was held over Microsoft Teams on February 26, where their role in the program was explained. Mentors are expected to aid mentees over text, check in on them weekly, and log their activity in a Google sheet. In addition, they are able to receive volunteer hours for their services. 

Mentees are able to receive help in any number of classes, simultaneously they are also able to be mentors.

Two more interest meetings were held on March 2 and 8. So far, around 20 students have shown interest in becoming a mentor. 

Creating relationships between mentors and mentees aims to build a bridge between students, improve student success, and create a close-knit, and more equitable, community at Wilson. 

Roberts and Adams run the program. They are in charge of making surveys, slideshows, and organizing meetings. 

The program’s return was inspired by both program leaders, who have both taken AP and honors courses at Wilson.

Roberts has taken around five AP classes. “[In] all those courses, it was really either me by myself as the person of color, or me and maybe two other people in my classes that were of color, and then everyone else was white,” Roberts said. 

This experience has further propelled Roberts to assist in bringing more students of color into advanced classes. “When you experience something like that uncomfortable feeling [of not having] anyone [to] talk to in class… I can understand where other students [of color] are.” 

Adams finds her experience to have a similar effect. Within her first year at Wilson, she was put into a majority-Black, on-level precalculus class that was covering material she recalls learning in “seventh grade.” She then switched into the honors precalculus class in which there was only one other Black student, and the class was a month ahead on the curriculum. 

“When Wilson’s around 30 percent Black, this shouldn’t be happening, but it’s what I’ve seen in almost all the classes that I’ve been in,” Adams said. 

Adams played a key role in MAP’s return to Wilson. Concerned with how the demographics of AP and honors classes did not reflect the demographics of the school body, she decided to bring this problem up to Social Studies Teacher Matthew Burgoyne.

 “I asked about what could be done about it, and then he told me about the MAP Committee. [We] started to talk about bringing it back, and then it actually started happening,” Adams said. 

English Department Chair and teacher Jennifer McLaughlin and Burgoyne both assisted in the program’s return and serve as supervisors of MAP. 

The MAP Committee was originally introduced to Wilson around 2011 or 2012 by both an english teacher, and former Wilson Assistant Principal Tennille Bowser. “[They] started it because there just weren’t enough students of color who were registering or staying in AP classes,” Principal Kimberly Martin said. 

Facilitated conversations were held in McLaughlin’s room, “It started out as a real informal way to listen to students of color taking AP classes and were dealing with [microaggressions from] teachers or classmates,” Martin said. 

Sometimes after meetings, MAP leaders would reach out to teachers, giving them advice on how to combat bias and microaggressions within their classrooms. 

However, the program was disbanded around 2018 after Boswer had left Wilson and teacher leaders were unable to upkeep it. 

Currently, MAP is developing official registration forms for mentors and mentees. Adams was very pleased with the group who attended the interest meetings saying, “[We] are looking forward to starting up the program with them and quickly expanding to all who could use our help.”