Making a Difference at Detroit’s Western High, 1 Laugh and Beyoncé Quote at a Time –  Deadline Detroit

As part of its campaign to showcase the best of Detroit Pulic Schools Community District, as well as its many challenges, Chalkbeat Detroit profiles a counselor on the southwest side. 

After describing how Joy Mohammed recently shook loose six laptop donations for Western International High students in need, reporter Koby Levin presents answers to six questions about her personna, her commitment and her tools. The headline sets the tone: “How one Detroit counselor uses humor, social media and Beyoncé to support her students.”

Joy Mohammed: “My most important tool is my sense of humor.” (Facebook photo)

Excerpts from the Chicago-born educator:

Her style: “My most important tool is my sense of humor. I’m extremely funny. [Laughs.] And I’m unapologetically myself. It’s very important that if I say something that’s wrong to a student, I apologize.

“They see me, they see my children. They see my Beyoncé tour T-shirts. Every single day I work, I am Joy Mohammed. They value seeing an adult who’s not perfect, whose favorite color is glitter, who speaks in Beyoncé quotes.”

Her role: “Everything I do is to get that student to learn how to learn. Everything I do is to get them back in the classroom and focus on their education — not just for the school year and for the day, but for their life. To make sure that they have the socio-emotional skills to navigate life.”

Her laptop drive: “On the first day of school [this year], I had about 15 students come to me to ask to be switched out of their yearbook class. To have 15 students come and demand to be removed, it was a little peculiar. After talking to them, I was told that their teacher told them that they had to have Wi-Fi and a laptop to take her class. These were students who I wanted to keep engaged in their coursework, who could desperately use the outlet that meaningful electives like yearbook provide. I was very apprehensive about taking them out of these classes, because we have so few art classes as it is.

“If you have an old, functioning laptop, reach out to me and I’ll take care of that. I do not believe that technology should be a barrier for student success in a K-12 learning environment.”

— Alan Stamm

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