Dante Dorsey, Intervention Specialist, Slauson Middle School

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

Dante Dorsey is the Slauson Middle School Intervention Specialist.  Born and raised in Flint, Dorsey is a graduate of Flint Central High School and The University of Michigan-Flint.  He discovered the impact he could make in the lives of young people and has been actively involved in the work for the last 13 years, with the last eight years at Slauson.  Dorsey and his wife, Jamila, are the proud parents of 3-year-old twin boys, William and Lawrence. He is passionate about sports, music, social justice, and positively impacting the lives of all students.

What will you remember most about the school year 2020-21?

I will remember March 11th the most.  It was the day local universities shut down, and the NBA canceled games, and soon after, AAPS canceled in-person classes.  It was an unprecedented situation, and I will never forget the feeling of uncertainty.  What I did not know was how long of a haul we were in for!

How is this year going so far?

The year is going better than expected.  We have had our challenges, and we returned to uncertainty, but our staff and students have all worked well together to make this return a somewhat smooth transition. 

What do you wish everyone realized about the work of an AAPS intervention specialist?

I wish people realized that the work of an Intervention Specialist is difficult work, and it never stops.  Our job often includes communicating with families long after and outside of the school day.  We also work year-round, supporting families during Christmas and other breaks, and working summer school.  Our work literally never stops.  Often, we are called upon when students are struggling or have had some negative experience, and rarely get to celebrate in the positive, which can also make our jobs difficult.  This is why I appreciate the small positives, the baby steps to success.

How do you measure success in your work?

 We measure success by tracking academic data and growth in students while monitoring attendance and behavioral progress.  Personally, I look for the small things that mark the steps toward success.  Has attitude and effort in school changed?  Does a student feel that the environment is positive and welcoming?  Do they feel personally supported and does the family feel supported?  These are successes that cannot be measured in numbers but are the very fabric of doing our work at a high level.

Describe an average workday. 

Dorsey and students sometimes sit around this restorative circular table to work out problems.

An average workday for me begins with meeting with our administrators to assess the needs of the building for that day.  Every day includes check-ins with caseload students, focus meetings with several of those students, and classroom observations.  I also meet with teachers and counselors on a regular basis.  I spend every day supporting students and staff in the cafeteria during lunches and also outside during dismissal.  Most days also include contact with parents.  My goal each day is to ensure Slauson students have a safe and positive environment when attending school.

What’s the happiest part of your day?

The happiest part of my day is greeting students as they leave the building.  They are generally in great moods and ready to talk about how their days went.  It is a great time to connect with the students and send them home with some positive energy.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a student who has rarely/never had success in school begin to succeed and feel good about school.  There are large numbers of students that need the encouragement and belief of adults, and it is truly rewarding to see those efforts manifest into success for the student.

What makes working at Slauson unique?

Working at Slauson is unique because of its history.  It is uniquely placed right in the neighborhood, and we are next-door neighbors with many families.  The community ties make it unique in that way, as you hear the stories of the many generations of families who have attended Slauson and make it a true community school.

What was always written on your report card in middle school?

What was always written on my report card in middle school was “He talks too much in class!”  I would often get caught up in sports debates with my classmates, as I was a classic distracted middle-schooler!

Favorite websites:

I am an avid news reader, reading M-Live and the Detroit Free Press every day.  The other apps I must have are ESPN and Bleacher Report.  I am a sports junkie! (GO BLUE)

Dorsey’s spacious office is filled with inspirational quotes.

If you could know the definitive answer to any one question, what would that question be?

If I could know the definitive answer to one question, it would be “What is my purpose in life?”

How do you spend your summers?

I spend my summers working summer school for AAPS and supporting families through home and community center visits.  In between, I squeeze in as much family time as possible.

What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life?

The most exciting part of my professional life is watching these young people grow and mature.  I would say the same for my personal life, watching my family grow and mature has been amazing.

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