As a nonprofit organization, PeerForward succeeds with the help of service-driven volunteers. Volunteering at PeerForward doesn’t just help the organization and those we serve; it also brings meaning and purpose to our volunteers’ lives. Become a volunteer HERE.
Dante Faison is a PeerForward Alumni and dedicated Volunteer Writing Coach who works as an educator teaching English and Drama at the high school level. His passion for shaping young minds and helping to uplift the next generation can be seen in both his professional and personal life. It is this dedication that has led him to be chosen as our Volunteer Spotlight. We caught up with him to discuss his career, his experience with PeerForward, and what made him want to come back as a Writing Coach.
Can you state your name, workshop year, and your position as a PeerForward Volunteer?
Hello, my name is Dante Faison. I did my workshop at UMBC in 2016. I am currently a writing coach, studying to be a writing coach coordinator.
Can you talk a bit about what your experience as a Peer Leader and why you decided to come back as a PeerForward Volunteer?
As a peer leader, I learned really to step out of my shell and become more comfortable with my challenges, with my truth, and really step into who I was as a person and as an inspiration to my peers. That is why I always come back to PeerForward. I really want to help kids get their story out and step into who they are. Sharing your story helps to open doors that were previously unavailable to you.
Can you speak on your career as a teacher and how your time at PeerForward changed your perspective on education?
PeerForward definitely shaped the way I see education. It helped me to realize that it is not a rigid, set path forward. Being an educator is about growing along with your students. It is about allowing them to step into their strength and then continuing to help them build on that. That is a perspective that I gained from working under Spice, Cornelius, DC, and now with Miss Julia as well. It is about letting your students step into their strength and then continuing to build them up after they do that.
As a Writing Coach, can you share your perspective on the importance of being able to tell your own narrative through writing a personal statement is?
The importance of being able to tell your narrative is just to be able to articulate what you have been through and then allow yourself to not stay there. It is powerful that in writing sessions we allow the students to really speak to what they have been through, what they have seen, what their reality is, and then the second half of their personal statement always circles back to “but I am not defined by this, I am not stuck here.” That is what the power of a personal statement is.
In your words, could you tell me why you think Peer Leaders should pursue a college degree or a different form of post-secondary education?
To answer the “why,” I would say because it opens so many other doors. I think that, for me specifically, education was something that I always wanted to go into. College allowed me to chart my own narrative and path in terms of being able to educate myself so that I can impact others. Other forms of post-secondary education also allow that. It is important to be able to chart your own way and not limit yourself to one level of education or job preparedness.
Can you talk about your current career as a teacher and where you see yourself heading in the future?
Currently, I teach at the high school level. I teach English 9, English 11, and teach Drama 1. I love it already! I am deeply passionate about working with young minds and helping them to see the world in a different lens through analysis. In the future, I want to be a department chair or administrator. Fingers crossed on that! No matter what my future job title is, I want to continue to sew into young minds.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity