How One Class is Changing Teens’ Futures

Before entering her first year at William Fleming High School, Ireland Maxey was nervous. Nervous about her new school, nervous about taking more difficult classes, and nervous about her future.

Expanding Horizons

During her first semester, she took African American Culture and Contemporary Issues (AACCI), a class offered by TAP in partnership with the school. It gave Ireland the guidance she needed to be excited about her high school journey and beyond. AACCI teaches the diverse history and culture of Africa and examines the experiences of Black people in America, all while teaching students a myriad of useful skills, from conflict resolution to mindfulness. Project Discovery, a TAP program, works in tandem with AACCI to prepare students for college success. Lateefah Trent, Project Discovery’s program coordinator, states, “Our biggest goal is to show students that there is something beyond the zip code they live in.” Once in class, Ireland blossomed.

“After a few weeks in class, she became less reserved,”says Antonio Stovall, who teaches AACCI. “She started asking meaningful questions about history and cultural identity. Then she began thinking more about college… Her overall outlook on life changed.” Now, thanks to AACCI and Project Discovery, Ireland plans to graduate high school early and attend college.

Thinking Beyond High School

“I want to major in psychology after learning about mindfulness in class,” says Ireland. “If not for AACCI, I would have never learned how to meditate. Now I use meditation any time I’m feeling stressed.” Recently, Project Discovery has taken to the outdoors, leading students on hikes, through ropes courses, and on other confidence building and stress-reducing excursions meant to both broaden students’ horizons and reinforce the benefits of outdoor activity on physical and mental health. Antonio sees these trips as integral to Ireland’s success.

Not many students have the initiative to participate outside of class, but “when we have activities outside of school, like hikes or wilderness survival classes, Ireland is always there,” he says.

Together, AACCI and Project Discovery have given Ireland a new perspective and the tools she needs to achieve her goals. Given the programs’ impact on her, Antonio says he sees Ireland “going on to college and doing great things.”

Learn more

To learn more about this program, email