Homecoming expats help Detroit students find their dreams

It didn’t take Detroit expat Benita Miller long to figure out that Jaymon English, a fourth-grader at Durfee Elementary-Middle School in Detroit, really liked art.

During a book-writing tutoring session with third- and fourth-grade students on Wednesday, Miller asked Jaymon about his grade, his family and his favorite things, information that would later appear on an “About the Author” page in a short book he was writing with Miller’s help.

The 2019 Detroit Homecoming session at Durfee Innovation Society center, next to the elementary and middle school, was led by Beyond Basics, which has taken its one-on-one tutoring model to the Central Detroit center and is working with students in Detroit Public Schools Community District, among other places, to bring them up to grade level in reading.

At the request of Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, Beyond Basics is looking to take its literacy tutoring over the next three years to 10,000 Detroit high school students who aren’t reading at grade level.

As Jaymon talked during the Wednesday session at Durfee, Miller, executive director of early childhood education nonprofit Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, helped him spell out the words so he could write them onto a worksheet.

She learned Jaymon, who was engaged and full of smiles, loved to color (especially the color red) and arts and crafts.

“When I was your age,” Miller told him, “I thought I wanted to work in advertising. What do you want to do?”

“I want to work at McDonald’s,” Jaymon said, because he loves McDonald’s.

Is there anything else, Miller asked? He shook his head as if he never dared to dream bigger.

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