Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION) Spreading Literacy with Love


Children's_books_at_a_libraryBy Gingit Meir

I am a retired Special Education Teacher.  I taught the mentally disable students for over 25 years in the Metro Detroit Area.

I belong to a non-profit organization call D.I.O.N. (Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network).  Part of our mission statement is to help uplift Detroit Families, particularly the youth.

One way to accomplish this goal was to start a Volunteer Literacy Program in the Detroit Schools. Before I developed a tutoring training course for our volunteers, I attended literacy workshops at the Jewish Federation Building. These workshops are organized by Sandy Lippitt, the Literacy Program Organizer for the Jewish Community Relation Council. She was also instrumental in placing our literacy volunteers in a Detroit School.   During this process, I was introduced to Evelyn Mann.  She is the Volunteer Reading Corp (VRC) Program Supervisor of Literacy, in the Detroit Public Schools.   The volunteers and I became members of the Detroit School System VRC.

I tutor two little girls, who are in kindergarten.  I see them once a week.  The two little girls happy to see me, and so are their classmates. I was in the hall way and I encountered the class of the girls that I tutor.  One by one the children came to hug me.  What a nice way to start a tutoring session. Another time, I was absent for two weeks due to an illness.  My girls and the other children in the class gave my colleagues health advice to make me heal quickly.  When I came back, I thanked the class for their health tips and told them that their advice worked very well.

I have seen the confidence in these two girls grow.  In order to learn you need to believe that you can learn.  You don’t have to be perfect and it is okay to make mistakes.   Tutors should create an environment where mistakes are permitted, as long as they are corrected.  I gave a phonic sheet to my students.  I went over it with them.  One of the girls was able to do the work by herself.  She made a mistake, realized it, crossed it out and circled the right answer on her own.  I gave her two stickers on her paper because I was so proud of her.

To make an error is human.   To err and correct it is a life skill that will lead to success.  As tutors, we try to give those skills that will take them to the next level and stay with them, even when we are not there. Tutoring is an act of love and we get back more than we give.

Currently, we have 10 tutors.  We are always looking for more, for the next school year.  If you would like to join us please contact me at

Photo by: By ProjectManhattan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons