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Week of 6.22.07

D'Mar's Story: An Update

Last year we took a hard look at reading, writing and recovery through the eyes of third-grader D'Mar. He and his classmates were returning to school in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina ravaged their city. In a NOW web exclusive video we met D'Mar and his grandmother Almedia Phoenix, who's determined to lovingly raise her three grandchildren and provide them with a stable home.

So how is D'mar doing now that he has the year behind him? "Although he's still adjusting he's improving a lot," his grandmother told NOW.

While Phoenix awaits her grandson's last report card from the Lafayette Academy, a charter school in New Orleans, she shares that he earned mostly "A's and B's with one C" in the previous term. She proudly states that D'Mar will be moving on to the fourth grade, due in part, no doubt, to his grandmother's supplemental academic teaching. Along with the homework assigned by his teachers, Phoenix has D'Mar read aloud 20 minutes each day to check for pronunciation and test spelling. She also drills him on math as well. The reward: "a bit of TV."

When we met D'Mar last year he was eager to make new friends at Lafayette. Phoenix says D'Mar succeeded in making many new friends and that's he's happy. Her hope is that Lafayette is more selective next year when screening children for admissions. "Some of the children were badly behaved and used rough language and that makes it hard for teachers and students," she said.

Phoenix continues to raise D'Mar and his two siblings in a trailer home supplied by FEMA. She still waits for her New Orleans home, severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, to be rebuilt. "It's difficult sometimes with three children because the trailer is so small," she says. She hopes her home will be reconstructed by the end of this year.

As for D'Mar's behavior, Phoenix says he's a typical boy. "I give him a C plus," she says "but I'm hoping to soon get that to a B."

Related Links

NOW: Learn More about Charter Schools

NOW: Live and Learn

NOW: Katrina Coverage

The State of Public Education in New Orleans [pdf]

Lafayette Academy

Topic Search: Education