Dohn uses boxing to teach discipline
[The sound of students shouting numbers echoes through the halls of Dohn Community Academy High School]
“One, two, one, two,” the class says in unison as they swing their arms from one toe to the other.
This isn’t math class, but it is an exercise in problem solving.
The students counting were warming up for their afternoon session of boxing.
“One, two, three, four. Come on, push. Come on, let’s work,” the head boxing coach, Daryl “P. Man” Jones, can be heard encouraging students.
Dohn is a charter school. In many ways, it’s like any other high school. Students are expected to excel in the classroom.
The difference between Dohn and other schools, excelling in academics is something many of the students here have never done.
After the school shooting in Florida, some of the focus has been on troubled youth and how to handle them.
Dohn makes their highest marks with the kids who have been in trouble everywhere else. Some have been kicked out of their other schools or suspended.
“We know some of our kids come to us with a little bit of history,” said Dohn Superintendent Ramone Davenport.
“My school that I left, it was my attitude that got me in places like, in trouble,” said Lila Logan.
“I had a lot of discipline issues and they really helped me. The boxing program really helped me with the discipline part,” Desirae Jarmon said.
There’s another difference at Dohn. Students are required to take a fitness and nutrition program.
There’s a volleyball program along with track, basketball and weight lifting.
Boxing is among the most popular. Boys and girls take part equally, even sparing.
“If a boy can do it, a girl can do it,” Jarmon said.
“I think what they need the most is leadership. I think it’s important that they have teachers who listen and respect who they are,” said Andrew Williams who has been involved at boxing’s highest levels and now works with the kids at Dohn.
“I think they need a lot of attention right now,” said Jones.
Jones has coached boxing legends like Aaron Prior. He’s not training the students to be boxing pros, but the lessons from the sport transfer to what many of the students need most.
“You get knocked down, you don’t get upset, you get up. You keep a positive frame of mind.” Jones said.
Jarmon said she likes the person she is now better than who she was before the boxing program, “It’s helped me a lot.”