Columbia educator uses her own failures to help students succeed

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COLUMBIA - A traditional educator uses their classroom to help students excel, but is an educator without a classroom any less of an educator?

Rev. Dr. Janice Dawson-Threat says no. In fact, her tutoring program is proof that even without a classroom, she is able to help Columbia's youth gain knowledge and teach them life lessons.

Before starting the For His Glory, Inc. Grade A! Academic Support and Enrichment Program, Threat was a researcher and college professor. She earned several degrees in education, including a doctorate. Though she was passionate about her research, the university she worked for was not.

"As I stood in a ceremony where I was being honored as an outstanding new faculty member, I had this piece of paper in my pocket that said 'did not meet expectations.'"

Her research was focused on why black students were not succeeding at the same rate as white students. Threat said the university told her she was brilliant, but it was not interested in her research. She said she believes she was just ahead of her time, as she was doing this research about 20 years ago.

She does not count losing her dream job as a failure. In fact, she said it made room for her greatest successes.

"It took me quite a while to understand that. I maybe consider that was a successful activity because I never would have ventured into the community," she said.

Her venture into the community was the tutoring program. It gives a place outside of school for students to get help with homework and develop critical skills. Many of the students come from home environments which are not conducive to studying.

Threat has a data team that tracks students' progress to make sure they are improving. She keeps a close watch on each student's grades and makes adjustments to their curriculum as she sees fit.

The program allows University of Missouri students to volunteer as tutors and mentors to children of all ages, backgrounds, and learning abilities.

Malachi Goodman, one of the program's tutors, said he believes Threat is an asset to the community.

"Reverend Threat is important basically because she's passionate," he said. "She's passionate about this."

The students agree.

"She's kinda like my grandma," Ky Thompson said. "She's very helpful to me, and she makes sure I get my education."

Threat said she is grateful for the program and keeps one thing in mind when she wakes up to go to work everyday.

"The success is at the end."