Life lessons: Beta Alpha Psi members teach at local school, see importance of giving

November 30, 2015

Beta Alpha Psi members bring business lessons—and boxes and boxes of books—to Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy students.

Tyler Davidson books to elementary school students.
Tyler Davidson books to elementary school students.

Tyler Davidson remembers looking at the bookshelves in Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy’s Resource Room. He said one thing grabbed his attention: They were nearly empty.

The Beta Alpha Psi member, who was at the Detroit Public School teaching economics to students through the business fraternity’s partnership with Junior Achievement, said he and his classmates wanted to change what they saw.

“Between teaching classes, we went up to their media room and noticed only three shelves that were mostly empty,” said Davidson, a College of Business senior. “We all agreed that we needed to do something about that.”

And on November 20, they did.

Members of the campus’ Beta Alpha Psi chapter donated 59 boxes of books to the elementary school. The school’s previous book collection was destroyed in a 2011 fire.

“We have no idea that they were going to do this. We recently started a campaign to get book donations, but they’ve been collecting for a year now without even being asked,” said Nicole Devezin, Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy guidance counselor and community coordinator. “We are very thankful and feel very blessed.”

Susan Baker, accounting faculty and Beta Alpha Psi co-adviser, said the business organization collected reading materials by doing a campus book drive, and by reaching out to other school libraries for donations.

In addition to stocking the school library with books, the UM-Dearborn students also volunteered for their fifth year of teaching business concepts to kids, grades K to 5, through Junior Achievement (JA) curriculum. JA is a nonprofit with the purpose to prepare youth to succeed in a global economy.

Baker said the group volunteers their time in many ways, which includes helping paint community buildings, planting and weeding in gardens and parks, and participating in organized opportunities like UM-Dearborn’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

But when students with physical limitations suggested doing a volunteer activity that didn’t involve labor, Baker said the group started a JA partnership—which led to teaching in Detroit Public Schools.

“They love going into the classroom and working with the kids. And you can tell the students like having them here too,” Baker said. “Our students teach the kid-friendly lessons about things like wants vs. needs, balancing bank accounts and working together to be successful.”

Baker said teaching helps Beta Alpha Psi members gain experience too. But it’s about more than that—it’s learning how important it is to get involved in the community.

“Being at the school is one our favorite times. Volunteering helps you realize that it’s not all about me,” she said. “Hopefully, for my students, they will remember the feeling of volunteering long after graduation and carry that with them to the business world.”