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Helping Students Discover their Potential

On just about any evening at Vincent High School you’ll find students working on homework, listening to a speaker, or just hanging out talking to volunteers. The organization, Above and Beyond the Playground, is an after school program for Student-athletes at Vincent High School (VHS). A former graduate, Deonte Tatum (VHS '01), conceived of the idea over six years ago. 

In 2012, Deonte had a serious injury. He was taking a classes at Cardinal Stritch University and thinking about how to help students improve their grades. Since he was immobile, he began to pray about what he could do in his situation. A concern he had, that student athletes in Milwaukee weren’t reaching their full potential. evolved into an idea to start a tutoring program to help athletes do better in academics, build relationships, and create possibilities using their gifts.(2008-09) Watching his basketball players struggle in school, he decided to require them to go directly to a study period after school. Team members could work alone on homework or enlist the help of a teacher for extra instruction. He started to see results and students were doing better in school.

Summer of 2015 - Deonte started Above and Beyond the Playground summer program. Applied mathematics, skill building for reading, literacy, comprehension, and debate skills. Research project whether student athletes should be paid or not.

Fall 2015-2016 Steve Whitmoyer instructor at Gateway College, Sean Kelton an engineer from GE, and Northbrook Church volunteers. Volunteers have come from the business community, local colleges and universities, organizations, and places of worship.

In 2015 two couples from Northbrook Church joined Deonte in his tutoring efforts. Dennis and Cindy Backhaus and Jeff and Wendy Wong have been regular volunteers and have brought other friends to help with tutoring from time to time. On Wednesday nights Deonte brings in speakers to share their careers and encourage students in other areas too.

Deonte has many dreams for Above and Beyond the Playground. Sending care packages to college students as they matriculate through college.They also provide verbal encouragement needed to navigate the twists and turns of college life. He calls this subgroup "Higher Ground." He dubbed the tutoring arm of the organization for high school students, "Buckle Down." He also dreams of helping students before they enter high school in grades 6-8, " Trailblazers".

Deonte's vision for students is that they find productive careers and lives post high school. He'd also like to see those athletically gifted athletes achieve GPAs that will get them into colleges and universities with scholarships. He knows it's possible because of Isiah Bogan and 15 other students who went to two and four year colleges and universities and other higher education opportunities. if parents and school leaders support this effort, who knows what could happen?!!

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