Church tutors reaching out to elementary kids

March 02, 1997


Staff Writer

When the members of St. James Brethren Church on Lappans Road began searching for an outreach project that would make a difference, they didn't have to look far.

"We have set up a volunteer tutoring program at Fountain Rock Elementary School, which is right down the road from the church,'' said Kristy Bowers, one of the organizers of the tutoring program.

The project was put into action quickly and has already had a startling impact, church and school officials say.

In December, letters went home with the Fountain Rock students notifying them of the chance to be tutored, Bowers said.

"We had 51 kids sign up,'' she said. "And amazingly, they were the very kids the teachers had identified as needing the extra help.''


Bowers said the volunteers are enthusiastic about the chance to help. "We aren't here to push religion on the children,'' she stressed. "We are here as an educational resource.''

One problem emerged as the tutoring program got off the ground: The students interested in being tutored far outnumbered the 18 church volunteers.

Church and school leaders solved the dilemma by breaking the students into two groups, one which began meeting with volunteers in February and will continue until late April, and another which will start then and run until the end of the school year. A volunteer generally works with two students at a time.

The children stay after school one or two days a week for an hour-long session, Bowers said.

"We work very closely with the teachers who tell us what areas need work,'' she said.

Volunteers and parents get the chance to interact when the youngsters are picked up, promptly at 3:30 p.m.

Principal Steven Bowers - no relation to Kristy - is all smiles about the program.

"Before the St. James volunteers started, we had nothing, no tutoring service at all,'' he said.

He said he believes every school in the county could benefit from such a partnership - with a church like St. James or any other group of volunteers.

Teachers are also excited that the volunteers are available. "This is wonderful,'' said Mrs. Donna Weimer, a first-grade teacher.

Weimer said parents have often requested tutoring.

Some children just need help with homework assignments. Others may be having problems with a specific skill, such as with fractions, rounding off or long division, Weimer said.

But as she pointed out, every child benefits from extra help in whatever form it takes.

The Herald-Mail Articles