For Deirdre Young, deciding what school to enroll her 5-year-old son, Charles IV, was a no-brainer. She knew he’d attend Detroit Public Schools’ Golightly Education Center.
It was, after all, where she began her own education, one that spanned her entire primary education at Detroit Public Schools Community District, culminating in her graduation from Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, now known as Detroit School of Arts (DSA).
And it was the knowledge she gained from her DPS education that gave her the tools to succeed in college and go on to become the director of multicultural affairs at the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Dentistry.
“This is a very great moment for me to have my son be a part of a legacy that I was a part of,” Young says. “I think it’s important to not forget your roots and though I have gone to college and professional school, my roots are Detroit Public Schools and I wanted my son to get exposure to that, as well.”
Charles is currently enrolled in the school’s pre-K HighScope program, which emphasizes active learning, so students have hands-on experiences with people, objects and ideas.
“They’re based upon three concepts: plan, do and review. This enables the students to express themselves and be very engaged while they are learning language,” Young says.
When he first started school, Charles wasn’t ready to detach from his mom, but thanks to his teacher, Lori Golani, and his teacher’s aid, Lori Maddy, he has flourished. Young and her husband, Charles III, are both happy with the progress their son has made in his first year and the confidence he has gained.
“I love that they do field trips that are engaging my child to think beyond ABC and 1-2-3,” she says.
Although Young’s job makes it difficult to volunteer in Charles’ classroom, she has been trying to give back to the students in the district.
“I bring middle school and high school Detroit Public Schools students to our dental school,” she says.
Known as the Dental Imprint Program and conducted throughout the academic school year, this is an opportunity for students to get early exposure to the dental field.
The program started in 2009 with four schools. Now, 10 Detroit public schools – including Dr. Benjamin Carson High School for Science and Medicine, Detroit School of Arts, Cass Technical High School and Renaissance High School – are involved.
In addition to her work with DPSCD, Young acts as a mentor for Tour for Diversity in Medicine or T4D, which is a “grassroots effort to educate, inspire and cultivate future minority physicians and dentists.” She and other professionals travel nationally to educate undergraduate students of underrepresented minorities about careers in the medical field.
Locally and nationally, this mom of two helps promote education and a love of lifelong learning – a love that started with DPSCD.
“It was a very cultivating environment,” Young says. “Teachers believed in me and took an interest in my interests.”
This post was originally published in 2013.