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Recent DCPS graduates return to classroom as tutors

Eighteen-year old Chenier Beale never imagined he'd be working in a pre-kindergarten classroom a few months after graduating from Eastern High School in Northeast Washington. "It's just played a big part in changing my view on what I want to do with myself," he told ABC7 News.

The "it" Beale refers to is The Leading Men Fellowship program offered through DC Public Schools. "A nine month fellowship where recent DCPS male graduates of color work in a Pre-K 3 or 4 classroom and specifically they focus on literacy interventions," Program Coordinator Antwan Perry explained.

The literacy tutors follow a structured curriculum as they help prepare young students for kindergarten. Before the fellows step into the classroom they must undergo one week of summer training and continue to be coached and monitored while they serve as tutors. Ashley Johnson is Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Literacy Lab; an organization that trains the fellows.

"About 40 hours of intensive training. That's followed then by about another 60 hours of training throughout the school year to learn how to work with young children, how to implement the interventions, do the assessments, and interpret that data," Johnson offered.

C.W. Harris Elementary Principal Heather Hairston appreciates the extra assistance. "The fact that we have an additional teacher, an additional person working with students to provide them with supports in the early grades is very, very helpful," she said.

The tutors are paid $13.85 an hour and upon completion of the program receive a $5,000 scholarship. "We hope that some of the fellows, if not all, will perhaps be inspired to want to become early childhood education teachers themselves," Perry added.

Beale isn't sure if he'll pursue a career in teaching, but enjoys having an impact. "My presence in the classroom has really made a difference on the kids and I like that; so I want to continue on making a difference," he said.

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