Working to get others involved in educating young Black men
The Motivated Men of Dorsey High School is a nonprofit organization committed to community collaboration and social responsibility through its efforts to prepare the young men at Dorsey High School to be effective communicators, critical thinkers and life-long learners. As a collaborative of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and community members, the organization’s objective is to foster positive relationships with the young men in an effort to close the achievement gap, increase test scores, and lead them to a successful high school experience.
Enforcing dress codes and academic standards is only a part of the overall mission of making the Dorsey High School experience one that has a positive impact on students and community. Motivated Men also accomplishes its goals by employing one or more of the following activities:
• One-on-one mentoring
• Monitoring on-campus conduct
• Assisting teachers and other staff with problem male students
• Acknowledging and rewarding students who are high-achievers
• Tutoring young men who are having academic problems
On Saturday, May 11, Motivated Men will sponsor an “Afternoon of Excellence” to honor selected young men who have demonstrated academic excellence and citizenship during the 2012-2013 school year. Students who met the qualifications, which included a grade point average of 3.0 or above, 90 percent in-seat attendance in all classes, no suspensions, and completing a 200- to 500-word essay on “Dorsey High School—From Excellence to Greatness,” were considered for the honor.
“We sent out 152 letters for men at the school who had 3.0 and above, and for the first two and a half weeks or so, no one responded,” said Dorsey alum, and Motivated Men member Leon Brooks. “We actually had to pull them out of class to give them another opportunity to apply, and at that point we only got about 60 guys. We had about three men who qualified, but said they didn’t want to do it. It is hard to believe, but many of these guys don’t want people to know that they are smart over fear of being ostracized.”
This isn’t the first time that Motivated Men has cited a problem with getting students and parents involved. Brooks said that the group recently held a Parent Appreciation Day that was open for all students and only 25 parents showed up—22 women and three men.
“If we could get parents and people from the community more involved then we would see change, but right now the bad habits the students pick up at school just come right back in the community,” said Brooks, who is also a resident of Baldwin Hills, where Dorsey is located. “There is just no sense of pride from the students or the teachers, and the parents have to get more involved. If we can get the parents behind the kids, it would make a difference.”
Brooks says that many of the problems at the school and with these young men result from the lack of passion from the faculty. He believes that the teachers are demoralized, and fear that many of them are just staying for the steady paycheck while waiting on retirement. “We are hoping there will be a change in administration. We are not giving up,” he said.
Brooks specifically noted his appreciation for the work that Motivated Men President David Richardson, and the group’s parliamentarian, Steve Bagby, do for the organization.
“They put their hearts in this. They are at the school everyday, 30 to 40 hours a week, working with these men, mentoring, helping to find scholarships to get these guys on track for college, and no one receives any money for this. Most of us have actually put money up in order to help keep Motivated Men going. We do this because it needs to be done. If we can save two or three of these young men, we are thankful,” he concluded.
The Motivated Men of Dorsey High School’s “Afternoon of Excellence” will take place at 3537 Farmdale Ave., L.A. in the Dorsey High cafeteria from 12-3 p.m. Lunch will be provided for the honorees and members of their family. There will also be a raffle with prizes, including a flat screen television, an iPod, and a $50 cash prize.
For more information on the organization or the event, call (323) 273-0733 or email email@example.com.