The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Head Start school in South Dallas provides hope for children

Davids Place
Courtesy of Johnanna Corrigan
David’s Place

David’s Place (Courtesy of Johnanna Corrigan)

 

DALLAS – South Dallas, a place notorious for crime, has been provided with a spark of inspiration that has helped change the lives of many families surrounding this impoverished area for the past 11 years.

“This area was so bad that I wouldn’t even risk driving through it 12 years ago,” said Johanna Corrigan, a longtime Dallas resident. “But now, I don’t even worry about walking down the street.”

David’s Place is a head start school of greater Dallas located in Jubilee Park and is responsible for significant improvements in the community that surrounds it. David’s place is able to accomplish this by remaining dedicated to the education of early childhood by providing younglings with the education needed to be successful in school and in life.

Before this school was built, the homes surrounding the area were all very run down, with the owners showing no intention of fixing these problems. Drug dealers and gangs littered the area, causing crime rates to be through the roof at the turn of the millennium.

Once David’s Place opened in 2002 these gangs and drug lords were persistent in not letting the school succeed. Most of the hostility, such as vandalism, was intended to thwart the change in the community. One of the most drastic actions taken was when a gang member drove his car through the front door of the school in attempts to push the efforts away.

David Martin, retired executive vice president of Texas Instruments, and his wife Maria are two of the most instrumental reasons that David’s Place was created.

Martin asked himself after working for a Dallas based company for nearly 38 years,
“How could we best give back to the community that has made us so comfortable?”

Mr. and Mrs. Martin have always been strong advocates and active volunteers of early childhood education and the opportunity of opening a head start school in Jubilee Park sparked serious interest.

One of the major donors for Jubilee Park was former CEO of Texas Instruments and Mr. Martin’s dear friend, Jerry Junkins. Junkins died of a heart attack at age 58, which shocked the Dallas community.

After his death, Mr. Martin was inspired to help better the project at Jubilee Park and donated $2 million to the development of David’s Place.

The name was established because of two reasons — one being that Mr. and Mrs. Martin lost a son years ago due to a hole in his heart; his name was David. The other reason being that Mr. and Mrs. Martin’s dear friend passed away two years before the opening of the school; his name was David as well and his wife also donated $500,000 to the cause.

While the risks were high with starting a school in such a high crime area, the dedication of the employees and the commitment of families to better the community made the need for an exit strategy unnecessary.

At first these aspects did not prove true, causing doubt in the project. But results of lowered crime convinced surrounding families to volunteer and contribute to bettering their community for future generations.

Since 2007, the crime rate of the Jubilee Park area has been lowered nearly 64 percent. To contribute to this lowered crime rate, members of the community are more compelled to call the police and report crimes that are happening, making the community as a whole prove they are willing to fight for change for the better.

The homes surrounding Jubilee Park have all transformed from filth-covered shanties to neat well-kept homes. Members of the surrounding community have taken the initiative to clean up the look of their homes by doing little things like cleaning up their trash or putting flowers on their porches. This once avoided area of Dallas has become a self-sustained community with every intention of improving their lives and the lives of their children.

Currently David’s Place has almost two more students per classroom than when it opened, currently holding 167 students ages three to five. Of those students, 94 are Hispanic and 70 are African-American, with the remaining four being bi-racial.

There are nine classrooms, each with two full time teachers. The school appears as though it is a normal pre-K, containing all of the necessities needed for the children. Because of its wonderful classrooms and wide range of learning materials, David’s Place proves worthy for children from anywhere to gain a great educational experience.

Rhonda Daniels, director of David’s Place, spoke of her excitement after only two years, saying, “I couldn’t be happier working here.”

Daniels mentioned she used to work at a similar community center at a different location, but she said the success and ability to inspire those within this community is unmatched.

The success of David’s Place has inspired the construction of an early head start school, ages zero to three, right next door called the Jeanie Laube School.

Jubilee Park and David’s Place are an amazing gift to South Dallas and act as a model for communities to follow to help better the underprivileged youth in our society.

A South Dallas home (Courtesy of Reiner Zuercher)

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