This month, I’m excited to introduce one of our key supporters, Angela Prince, Mumford High School Principal
to share her personal thoughts on literacy and Beyond Basics.
From time to time, I will invite our key stakeholders to write a guest column on topics that align with our mission to bring literacy to everyone.
– Pam Good
Literacy Changes Society for the Better
by Angela Prince, Principal
Mumford High School
It didn’t take me long to see the impact Beyond Basics made on the children who participated in their reading tutoring program. I first learned about Beyond Basics in 2014, when the Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation brought Beyond Basics into my school, University Yes Academy, a charter school in Detroit, to improve literacy.
The tutors connected quickly with the children through art and writing projects, activities Beyond Basics used to break the ice and make the hard work of learning to read more fun. This initial experience eliminated the stigma typically associated with students requiring tutoring, allowing students to embrace the program. I watched with amazement and pride as the students began to learn, grow and develop self-confidence. The children enjoyed their success in learning to read and wanted to be in the Beyond Basics classroom.
I have taught in five different states – Florida, Texas, Alabama, Rhode Island and Michigan and have never seen a program as impactful as Beyond Basics.
In 2016, I became principal at Mumford High School and realized quickly how many children desperately needed this program. Immediately we started fundraising and were successful. I’m happy and grateful to share that two of the organizations that have funded in the past, Detroit Public Schools Foundation and the McGregor Fund, have already agreed to fund the program again this year.
The impact on a child’s life and our society
Children who have gone through the Beyond Basics program consistently say, “I was failing everything and now I’m passing everything.”
Beyond Basics students walk out with confidence and pride that they are finally on an even playing ground. How do you measure that confidence and pride? I’m not sure, but it provides a foundation, one they can continue to build on once they graduate from the program.
All children have the right to literacy and a quality education. To support Beyond Basics and to shed light on literacy, Mumford High School hosted the Beyond Basics Literacy Summit during National Reading Month in March. Hearing Elijah’s story spoke to the hearts of these children and many were finally ready to get help. The heartbreaking news is that many of these children were seniors who have since graduated and it was too late to get them into the program.
I’m hopeful that we can bring some of the students back to the new Beyond Basics Family Literacy Center at the Durfee Innovation Society, where they can participate in the tutoring program. These children need to know how to read to be successful. Without those skills, they will struggle.
Why we need your help
Most of the children in the Detroit Public Schools Community District are two to four grade levels behind. The work that Beyond Basics does in their tutoring sessions is impossible for teachers to do in the classroom because there are so many students who need help.
Beyond Basics should be available to any child who is illiterate. As advocates for children, we should look into folding Beyond Basics into all of our schools so we can help all of our students.
Our new Detroit Public Schools Community District slogan is when students rise, we all rise. Literacy will change our society for the better. I am grateful for the partnership we’ve had with Beyond Basics and hope we can bring this program to more students in the coming school year so we can see more students rise.