"Power of the Pen" encourages students to read - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

"Power of the Pen" encourages students to read

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(04/02/14) - Davenport University in Flint is helping motivate students to read and pursue college - all through the "Power of a Pen."

It started as an idea - a way to motivate students to read.

"I'm noticing that they don't want to read, and so I decided that I wanted to do a project with literacy," said Angela Smith, Davenport University professor.

It turned into a life changing experience that traveled way beyond the classroom.

"It was life shocking," said Lyrica Kelly, student at Northwestern High School. "It was a new experience and I learned a lot."

The program "Power of the Pen" revolves around the book "The Soul of a Black Cop", a novel written by Flint Police Officer Brian Willingham.

The book raises the issue of guns and violence, a storyline that most of these student can relate to.

"They saw how parents' decisions effected their children, they saw how young people when they made decisions about whether to do drugs or not to do drugs, how that impacted their lives and the lives of others," said Dr. Tammy Reese, of Northwestern High School.

"It touched me because young people in the city of Flint are getting killed for no reason," Kelly said.

Smith used the novel as a tool to get Northwestern students reading. She teamed them up with her college class, and together they finished the book.

Kelly says it's changed her view. She's always had plans to attend college and wants to study at Central Michigan.

"And become an OBGYN," she said.

Now the desire to achieve that dream is even greater - and she wants leave a positive mark on her community.

"This book tells you that being on the streets is not a good thing and going to college is what you should do and have to do to put money on the table and food on the table," she said.

A revelation that could make a big impact in and around Flint - all because one professor had an idea to inspire more students to read.

"They know that even if their parents didn't go to college, they themselves can go to college and that reading can be fun if you pick the right book," Smith said.

"The Soul of a Black Cop" is available on Amazon. The Northwestern tenth grade English class plans to make it part of the yearly curriculum.

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