In early 1997, Jerome Clemons, Jr., then a high school student in Charleston, SC, was notified that a delegate scheduled to attend the President's Summit for America's Future was unable to attend and that he was the selected replacement. Clemons attended the Summit and learned about the 15 million young people who were at-risk of not leading productive lives because of the lack of fundamental resources. He returned from the Summit inspired, educated and energized to make a difference.
Following the Summit, Clemons made a commitment to start a summer reading tutorial lab for elementary students. To get the program off the ground, Jerome solicited assistance from Youth Service Charleston who donated books and reading supplies to his program and helped him find area camps that needed his services. Additionally, he designed learning games to engage students in enjoyable learning and mobilized many of his friends to volunteer.
The program deals with children who live in the inner-city and who have some of the lowest test scores in the South Carolina. Each child is matched with a partner who helps them with reading mechanics. Teachers have reported an increase in the reading and vocabulary skills of participating students.
Since its first year, the summer program has grown from one site to four. Clemons believes that working with kids is the best job in the world and that the best way to build a strong foundation for a child is to show them love, hard work and respect.
Clemons currently attends Towson University in Towson, MD, where he plays soccer for the school and continues to volunteer. He hopes to major in elementary education and wants to be an elementary teacher when he graduates. “Education is the key to the future,” says Clemons, “and I hope to make children’s futures better by providing a good an education for them.”