For three years Dometrius Hill has provided Tyler students with a safe and productive after-school environment at the Songham Martial Arts Academy.
"We pick our kids up, we provide them with a healthy snack, and we help them with homework completion,” says Hill. “Then they also get an opportunity to learn martial arts."
With 25 students currently enrolled in the program, Hill says they have outgrown their current facility.
"Where we plan on going is going to be a little more than 45,000 square feet and that's just the building itself," says Hill. "It will actually sit on an acre of land."
At today's city council meeting, a special use permit was granted to Hill for the construction of a new facility inside a neighborhood in the 3100 block of Seaton Street.
The larger facility will allow Songham to accept more students, and provide them with their own space to do their school work.
"This area is specified for single family homes,” says Heather Nick, the Managing Director for the City of Tyler. “Any use that is outside of a residential use would need to obtain a special use permit and those are for limited uses so, in this example, this is for a community center which might be for a use that you would see in a residential area."
Residents in that area were hesitant about the community center at first, but approved of the permit when they learned about the center's mission to prevent bullying and promote leadership.
"What we really try to do is focus on that with our students,” says Hill. “Being on time, having a great attitude, definitely not talking while the teacher is talking, and trying to be helpful to your fellow students."
Hill hopes to finish construction and welcome new students by the start of the next school year.