The Commit, or Commit to Dallas, program is one that lives up to its name. With its Jesuit association only being a small aspect of the program’s reach, Commit is a city-wide organization that focuses on educational intervention equity, educational justice, and educational intervention strategies. Commit has only been at Jesuit for two years, but the program as a whole has been around for quite a while.
Mr. Riemer, a computer science faculty member who is heavily involved in the Commit to Dallas program and leads the Jesuit branch, says that Jesuit works with the branch “one through three, which stands for public private partnerships. This network deals primarily with early childhood literacy.” He adds that, “All of the Jesuit volunteers work with pre-K through third grade schools doing reading, writing, and literacy intervention work.”
Jesuit is partnered with six different schools through Commit, all of them located in the northern area of Dallas. The six elementary schools are as follows: Nathan Adams, Obadiah Knight, Julian T. Saldivar, K.B. Polk, David G. Burnett, and Jerry Junkins. All of these schools are a part of the “W.T. White/Thomas Jefferson feeder pattern,” so “all the elementary schools will feed into either W.T. White or Thomas Jefferson,” says Mr. Riemer.
Jesuit has twenty-five seniors that work with Commit through the senior service program. There are one or two students that may start doing after-school tutoring at one of the Commit schools, and a small group of juniors and sophomores could begin doing weekend tutoring. On top of this, there is a Jesuit Women’s Auxiliary that will tutor on Wednesdays and Saturdays through Commit. The Latino Outreach Society and Club Sandwich may also be getting involved with Commit. Club Sandwich is working on making sack lunches for all of the kids who are being tutored on the weekends, so the kids have a healthy lunch on the weekends.
Michael Lanham ’15 is a part of the Wednesday service group associated with Commit, and every Wednesday, he and three other students go to Julian T. Saldivar Elementary school and work with kids from 1st to 3rd grade. “We primarily help students with reading, going through all kinds of different books in one-on-one sessions,” Michael said, “and the rest of the time, we help out anywhere else we might be needed, which might mean helping out with some science or math homework every once in a while.”
Michael, whose level of involvement for the Commit program includes Wednesday service with occasional days of doing additional work for Riemer, says that he thoroughly enjoys working with the Commit to Dallas Program. Adding that he knows “the job of teaching children to read is of utmost importance, and regardless of their future plans, these students need to have a firm grasp on their literacy,” it brings Michael great joy to be a part of the process of educating them. The experience has also made Michael “incredibly grateful for the teachers who do this job day in and day out.”
Michael finished by stating the importance of The Commit Program, adding that, “Students simply cannot succeed without a solid foundation of reading and writing,” and until they are able to do so, “it is very difficult to learn about math, science, and other fields.” “Our goal is to teach students to enjoy reading,” says Michael, “and make it a part of their life as opposed to just another assignment.”
The Commit program is a great opportunity to help young kids get a head start on learning and take action to advance in school. The program has grown exponentially at Jesuit since its start as a senior service site. It heavily focuses on the importance of teaching a child to read and write well, because mastering these aspects of school then allows the others to be conquered more easily.