“When I was in school, the teacher would be talking to the class, but I didn’t feel like she was talking to me,” says Dasmond. “I had trouble with reading and that made it hard for me to understand the lessons. I was afraid to ask for extra help, so I just fell behind.” As it grew more difficult to catch up, Dasmond began to wonder if there was a better way to spend his time. “I started to think that school just wasn’t for me.”

When Dasmond dropped out, he was on the fast track to becoming a very real statistic; in fact, African-American male dropouts are three times more likely to go to prison than their Caucasian counterparts. “I was just hanging out on the streets, up to no good. I was probably going to end up in jail.”

A New Approach

After becoming a father, everything changed. “I knew I wanted to be a good father who could provide for my daughter. And that meant going back to school and getting a career.” Dasmond’s girlfriend told him about Learn4Life and Dasmond agreed to try it out. “I was really surprised that my teacher took the time to get to know me personally. It felt like she really cared about me.”

To address his reading challenge, Dasmond’s supervising teacher created a system where teachers and tutors would read aloud with him during lessons. “I didn’t feel like I was doing it alone. They would read it with me. And then before I knew it, I was reading entire novels by myself.” Dasmond graduated from Learn4Life last spring and wrote a poem for his teacher to thank her. Now, he studies English at his local community college and works part-time.