One Student's Story
Denise Woodson: Portrait of a changed life
In Tidewater Gardens public housing, Denise, at age 24 and with three children (Quinton age 7, Takia age 6 and Jihadd age 3), was living a life of drugs, promiscuity, gangs, and violence. She was also being recruited by a racist, militant Islamic sect. Tired of her lifestyle, Denise cried out to God for help one night after intense suicidal feelings. Two women from Urban Discovery Ministries (UDM), who were canvassing her neighborhood, knocked on her door the next day. They invited Denise to UDM's Project Light Literacy and GED Learning Center to study for the GED Exam, using Project Light's one-to-one Tutoring Program GED Software.
Denise began attending the Learning Center every day for five hours. She completed Project Light's BLS-TutorSystems GED software in record time. On her second attempt, Denise passed the test for her GED! She also made a decision to accept Christ as a result of the one-to-one relationship established while being tutored.
Denise began attending the Learning Center every day for five hours. She completed Project Light's BLS-TutorSystems GED software in record time. On her second attempt, Denise passed the test for her GED! She also made a decision to accept Christ as a result of the one-to-one relationship established while being tutored. Denise was so happy with her experience at the Learning Center that she wanted to share it with her three children. Jim Crawford, Project Light's Founder, came to the center to train Denise on how to work with her children at home to support what they were learning at the center. Project Light gave Denise a computer and a set of Project Light's software, and trained her in the use of both.
While working a sample lesson in the Reading Readiness portion of the software she discovered that she had visual and perceptual problems that made it difficult for her to comprehend what she read. That day she decided that not only would she utilize the Project Light literacy software with her children at home, but that she would use it to strengthen her own literacy skills. Denise soon wore a cap and gown in a special UDM graduation ceremony. Soon, she began volunteering at the same center where she had studied to earn her GED, and became the Assistant Learning Center Director. She also married Felton Woodson, who had accepted Christ as a foster teen while at UDM's summer camp.
1996 - 2001
In 1996, UDM Promoted Denise to Learning Center Director; later, she was given oversight of two additional Learning Centers and their Directors.
In 1999 Denise joined the Project Light Team as a Regional Training Center Director.During this time she trained others in the use of the Project Light Tutoring Program and Software. She also actively helped establish thirty new Learning Centers across the United States and one in Jamaica.
In 2001, Denise was asked to return to UDM to direct their Summer Literacy Programs. She developed the "Three Station Summer Camp", utilizing Project Light literacy software, GED software and UDM's mentoring program. She also worked on a method that would help teach new Learning Centers how to reach and draw in and mentor new students and tutors. Denise has been instrumental in improving the Project Light program.
Between 2002 and 2005 Denise re-established UDM's adult and children's programs in Park Place using the Project Light Literacy and GED programs. The first year, 2002, saw 40 Adults finish the program and earn their GED's.
In 2006, while acting as the Director of UDM's Learning Center, Denise had the pleasure of tutoring Kerry Ann Sylvester, a young woman who moved to the United States from Jamaica at the age of 15. While tutoring Kerry Ann, Denise had the opportunity to minister to her and eventually lead her to Christ. Today Kerry Ann is the Director of UDM's Literacy and GED Learning Center under Denise's mentoring.
Over the years the Lord has developed a strong conviction in Denise to see entire families transformed through relationship with Christ, just as her family was transformed. Currently Project Light is partnering with Denise to grow the Mentoring Program that she developed while serving with UDM. This program will take Project Light literacy and GED software into the homes of families and assign tutors to work with each member of the family to develop literacy and life skills while providing lasting relationships in Christ.
Lakia graduated from Granby High School with a 3.7 GPA and was accepted to University of Virginia where she is currently attending. Ms. Miriam, her Project Light tutor, has continued to be a huge part of their lives as an honorary member of their family.
At age seven, Quinton struggled with reading and was doing poorly in school. After finishing the Project Light software he improved greatly and graduated in 2004 from Granby High School. Today he maintains an excellent job and is enjoying life.
Jihadd was 3 when he started the Reading Readiness portion of the software. This gave him a great foundation for entering into school by learning to read and write at an early age and obtaining the support needed through the Learning Center and at home. He is a student at Granby High School and is looking forward to continuing his education after he graduates.
Denise estimates that as a result of her decision to become a student at UDM's Project Light Literacy and GED Center, and the promotion and outreach initiatives that she has been involved in since, over 1,000 people have made decisions for Christ, learned to read, and/or have been enabled to obtain their GED's. This transformed life is now passing that same opportunity to the next generation and beyond!