For two hours after school every Monday through Thursday, in a colorful and inviting room nestled past mural-adorned hallways in the heart of its Avenue B building, the Bogalusa YMCA carries on the mission for which it was created.
It helps to strengthen the community by offering tutoring for first- and second-grade students who need the hands-on, individualized assistance.
The success of the program, which started in January, is already apparent in improved grade point averages and demonstrated by the fact that the tutoring slots are “maxed out,” according to the Y.
“We’re doing this because there was a community need,” said Toni St. Philip. “When we originally started, the schools were not doing afterschool tutoring. We were going to do first through fourth grades. This year, the schools did third and fourth grades, so we’re doing first and second grades.”
The classes are offered throughout the school year, and more will be added for the next school year if registration indicates the need, she said.
The tutoring is provided free of charge to students who qualify as needing the assistance via a teacher recommendation. Parents are responsible for dropping their children off at the Y and for signing them in and out.
The United Way has provided partial support for the program, and the national YMCA donated 18 laptop computers to the cause, said CFO Stuart Parker.
Vergie Moses is the program coordinator, and Faye Grigg, a certified teacher who retired from Superior Avenue Elementary School last year, is the tutor.
On Thursday, Grigg and her assistant, Carol Smith, walked through a room full of quiet and attentive second-graders, helping each, in turn, tackle their homework. Then the group moved on to different exercises.
“We work on exercises they would be doing in the classroom so everything applies to their school work,” Grigg said.
The calm environment is a reflection of the tutor and determination of the students to make improvements.
“I enjoy working with small groups of students,” Grigg said. “It keeps me in touch with children and education, which I have a heart for.”
The students come in at different levels of expertise, and most are below grade level, she said.
But the tutoring has already helped.
“Most of the children have increased their grade point averages in reading and math,” Grigg said. “They get lots of individual help. And they come faithfully.”
When a student reaches the point where he or she no longer needs the tutoring, that student is “transferred out” to make room for another, Parker said.
“Twenty-two students have gone through the program so far,” St. Philip said.
The regular individualized and educated attention, complete with a sharing of ideas and other interaction, all within a calm, spacious and bright environment fits in nicely with the YMCA goal of assisting in the development of healthy bodies, minds and spirits.
To help with additional program support, call Parker or St. Philip at the Y, 732-3741.