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Dallas Teachers Helping Students Succeed In One Of Area's Most Impoverished Neighborhoods

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Shareefah Mason knows firsthand the opportunities education can bring.

"I was an impoverished student," Mason said. "I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. I'm a Hurricane Katrina transplant to this area and so I feel like I have to give back because someone poured into me."

In the 14 years she has been with Dallas ISD, she's done just that for her students in south Oak Cliff and is constantly looking for ways to expand her educational offerings.

She recently took a Harvard-X class on family engagement in education.

"I thought it was a perfect premise and foundation for any type of educational experience," she said.

Shareefah Mason
Shareefah Mason (CBS 11)

It made such an impact that she partnered with another teacher to create a step-by-step guide for getting though the course.

They titled it "From Da Hood 2 Harvard" and asked current and former students and their families to sign up for the class.

"As a part of my doctoral research, I researched factors that students who will be first generation faced in completing their studies and so one of them was lack of knowledge, lack of confidence to do what was necessary to finish so this totally aligned with that," Dr. Rickenya Sisk said.

Dr. Rickenya Sisk
Dr. Rickenya Sisk (CBS 11)

"When I found out about the Hood 2 Harvard program, my daughter is in the 11th grade and so she is of course going to pursue a college career, so I wanted to make sure that she has all access," participant Dana Williams said.

Williams said three weeks into the four-week class, they've already learned some valuable lessons.

"More or less the importance of being involved in my child's education, networking with other parents," she said.

"The parents are gaining the academic confidence that they need so they can be the support for their students," Mason said. "What the students receive is the academic ability and exposure and now they can build their academic resumes.

She calls it a win, win for all involved.

As they now approach graduation, a generous donor has paid for all 12 participants to get a certificate marking their achievement.

The Hood 2 Harvard program is part of Mason and Sisk's nonprofit organization, ColorED Black and Brown, which is aimed at developing strong and educational community partnerships by offering various programs.

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