When Deron joined Cluster in the 6th grade, he was behind grade level in his reading skills. Now that he nears high school graduation, he’s 10th in his class at Urban Prep Academy and headed for pre-med studies in college.
Oh, and he’s been accepted at eight universities. So far.
This is the seventh year that Deron and tutor Mary Crescente have been working together as student and tutor. During that time, they have built a rapport to focus on what Deron needed help with most.
“He improved so much in his skills and learning how to do his work,” Mary said.
At first, the two concentrated on Deron’s reading skills, which quickly came up to grade level. Now that he’s in his senior year, he’s taking several Advanced Placement and honors classes in history, statistics, English, and more. He’s even studying anatomy.
As Deron got older and became more active with school and job commitments, it became harder to make it to weekly tutoring sessions. During baseball season in the spring, for instance, Deron must stay after school for practice and games. So Deron and Mary met on Sunday afternoons at the Oak Park Public Library.
“She’s always there for me and figures out a way to make it happen,” Deron said. “Whenever I need help, I call Miss Mary.”
When it’s not baseball season, Deron is active in Art Club at school. He also holds down a part-time job at Sears.
Deron’s college list of acceptances include Ferris State University, Hampton University, Harris-Stowe State University, Jackson State University, Northern Illinois University, Roosevelt University, the University of Arizona, and Xavier University. His top choice is Roosevelt, so he can save money by living at home. He’s been offered financial packages from quite a few schools, but making up the difference is always the final and most challenging step.
Deron said he wants to become an anesthesiologist. He decided to become a doctor after observing live open-heart surgery at a South Side hospital as part of an demonstration program.
He credits Cluster Tutoring with helping him to learn organization and study skills. “I’m learning stuff that I didn’t learn in school,” he said.