Student Spotlight: Darnell

August 1st, 2018

Darnell, M-NCPPC employee, LCMC student, and doting father.

Work in adult education long enough, and one inevitably meets some of the most inspiring and determined parents there are. Darnell, a Basic Literacy student with LCMC, and father to a son, is one of them.

“I always wanted to help him with reading,” says Darnell. “I always wanted to pick up a book and help my son read. Now I can pick up a book and read most of the stuff in the book now. Before I couldn’t.”

Darnell has just gotten off work for the day, at a park in Laurel, Maryland, where he’s still in his M-NCPPC uniform on the warm June day. He is a bit shy, but he smiles warmly and responds eagerly, making small talk while settling into a spot on the park’s bleachers to talk about his experience as an LCMC student.

For several years, LCMC has partnered with M-NCPPC to provide Basic Literacy classes to any of its employees who want to participate. Darnell has participated for three years in a row, one of the partnership’s most enthusiastic students.

Darnell grew up in Southeast DC, a childhood he recalls fondly. His school, however, did not seem to catch on that Darnell was not keeping up with his grade level as far as reading and writing. “I didn’t really notice until later, when I was a little older,” that he struggled to keep up with reading and writing. “Maybe in high school, that’s when I think I started to notice.”

Darnell’s biggest motivation for pushing through the class’s hardest units: being able to help his son.

When Darnell moved to Prince George’s County after high school, he got married and began working in landscaping, leading him to M-NCPPC. He even began working with a literacy tutor in Prince George’s County, too. “I had signed up for a tutor and was taking classes. We were meeting in the library in Hyattsville where the [Prince George’s] Literacy Program was at.”

Things were going well, but life happens. “I had moved away and I had stopped taking classes. When I came back to Maryland, I decided to take classes again. I had started it back up and things didn’t work out so well with the tutor so I stopped.”

Often pairing tutors with students can be a tricky business; many of the same reasons a child does not do well in their third grade classroom, no matter how bright and intelligent that child is, can be the same reasons an adult learner as hard-working and intelligent as Darnell can do well with one tutor but not with another.

That’s why LCMC offers different programs for different learning styles, and the partnership between LCMC and M-NCPPC proved to be just what Darnell needed.

“My first thought was when they offered the classes, I was like, ‘great, I need them,’” recalls Darnell. “When I first started the classes, I felt good. I felt good because I knew this Is what I wanted. I was looking forward to go on with my life and my career.”

Graduation day 2018 for LCMC’s literacy class for M-NCPPC employees

He adds, “One of the things that they taught that was helpful was learning how to break the words down, to pronounce the words and to know how to spell the words. That was really helpful for me.” Each year’s class provided a different teacher, but this time, it worked out in Darnell’s favor. “What I liked about the class was each time that I took it, each teacher taught us something different.”

Darnell recalls his childhood in DC fondly, but today he has another childhood in front of him to consider as he moves along in his own career. “What motivated me was that I wanted to help my son. When he needed help I didn’t want to say that I wasn’t able to do it. That’s what really motivated me.”

As reported by several studies, including NIH, the NCIB, Iowa State University, even the University of Sydney in Australia, the single most determinant factor in a child’s academic success is the literacy level of the child’s parents.

That means Darnell’s endeavor to improve his literacy is one of the greatest services he can do for his son as a father.

“I can help him a lot more now. There’s a lot of things I can help him out with, I can help him read. Before, I couldn’t do that.”


If you would like to support LCMC’s work to partner with area organizations, agencies, and businesses to provide literacy services to their employees, donate here.