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Student Finds Service Opportunity Right in His Own Back Yard

Teaching three-year-olds how to read a picture book is harder than you think.

“They look at each individual page as its own entity. I help them understand that it’s part of a bigger story, that what happened the page before affects what is happening on the current page and will ultimately impact the end of the story,” says Deon Morrissette.

That’s an apt metaphor for Deon’s own story. He grew up just blocks from where he now volunteers with Jumpstart, a children’s literacy program funded by AmeriCorps (in fact, his grandmother lives just up the street).  Deon says he really benefited from similar programs designed to help him stay focused on succeeding in school and going to college. When a friend told him about Jumpstart, he knew he would be “a good man for the job” of helping other kids the way he had been helped. He quickly applied.

Now he works with kids ages 3 to 5 at Penn Elementary School in North Lawndale, helping them with the vocabulary and reading skills they’ll need to succeed in school.

“I strive to be a role model,” says Deon. He wants kids from the neighborhood he grew up in to look at him and say, “I can make it because I see that Deon made it.”