Meet an inspiring T4A Alum and Donor: Deejay

IMG_2671Deejay Robinson worked at our Codman, Prospect Hill Academy, and Dever Programs from 2011-2012 as a member of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Corps.  He got his Bachelors in Music in Vocal Performance at Milikin University in Illinois and then his Masters in Music for Vocal Performance at Longy School of Music in Cambridge.  He is now teaching in Boston and going to Boston University for a Masters in Music Education.  Deejay’s passion for education continually inspires us and we are excited to share our recent interview with him.

What are you doing these days?
Deejay: “As far as work goes, I have been teaching K-5 music in Boston Public Schools for 3 years now.  I teach at the Thomas Edison K-8 in Brighton.  I have grown the music program during my time there in the quality of the repertoire of what students are singing and concert attendance by parents.  There is an overall excitement for music and music education.  Next year, I’m leaving BPS and I’ll be starting a job at Buckingham Brown and Nichols teaching music for Kindergarten- 2nd Grade. I will graduate BU in 2016.  I am focusing my studies on the intersection of race and music.  Right now, I’m doing research.  BB&N has a great mission that will allow me to do more research.  I’m also hoping to involve their community.”

How well did Tutors for All prepare you for your work now?
Deejay: “T4A prepared me better than student teaching because when you student teach, you really only take over a class for a week.  A lot of that experience is really getting your feet wet.  At T4A, I was able to work individually with students who were deemed as needing improvement.  Through that, I was able to get creative and think through numerous strategies and techniques.  That gave me the springboard to be creative in classroom as I had already developed a tool box of things.  T4A also put me in contact with BPS.  I stayed at Dever for an additional semester after T4A stopped working there and tutored one student.”

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for tutors of today?
Deejay: “Whether or not you want to stay in field of education, it is important to keep in mind the power of human interaction, specifically interactions that are aimed at helping people achieve their fullest potential.  Even if a student is deemed as needing improvement, it’s important to remember that they too have endless possibilities.  Our job to help them discover some of those possibilities.”

What was your fondest memory at Tutors for All?
Deejay: “It was introducing and meeting Governor Deval Patrick.  Mark told me that the DeejayandGovPatrickGovernor’s office wanted to send someone from T4A to talk on tutoring and service.  I wrote a speech on a student who didn’t want to come to tutoring because she wanted to go to the mall with friends.  But, she came to tutoring and she told me that she wanted to go to the mall, but she decided to come instead.  I related it to the power of service.  Yes, it may seem tedious and you may feel like you’re not seeing growth, but the smallest thing can make a difference.  Also Governor Patrick said ‘Deejay, when you teach a child to read, you teach them to look up’ and that stuck with me.”

Knowing what you know now, how do you think Tutors for All could better reach its mission?
Deejay: “Mark had a focus group 2-3 years ago and we were talking about publishing the work in local newspapers.  We need more advocates for the program to the Boston community so that people understand its impact.”

I understand that you are also a supporter of Tutors for All.  Why do you donate?
Deejay: “For two reasons:  The first is that I’ve been a tutor and I’ve seen the impact a tutor can make and I want to support that.  The second is that as a teacher, we can’t do it all.  Especially as a music teacher who does it all by myself.  It’s important to have extra hands.  I am more than willing to help academic teachers out.  T4A is the best resource to help teachers bolster student achievement.”

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Deejay: “It’s important to pick up a hobby.  Mine is dancing.  Since I live in East Boston, I have picked up Bachata.”

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