Power Hour

School partnership with BGC extends to Lake Road Elementary
Posted on 11/07/2012

New data is showing that the average daily attendance at the Boys and Girls Club of Poplar Bluff has increased by nearly 200 students over last year, thanks to the long-standing partnership with Poplar Bluff Schools.

A fourth school-based site to host Power Hour, the BGC’s award-winning after school tutoring program, was established on Monday at Lake Road Elementary in order to bump up participation among at risk students.

“About this time last year we went to [Superintendent] Chris Hon and asked how we can double the size of the club in the face of impending budget cuts,” recalled Chris Rushin, BGC executive director. “We proceeded to talk to elementary principals who, for the most part, enthusiastically embraced the idea.”

Eugene Field and Oak Grove Elementary, along with the Poplar Bluff Kindergarten Center, helped the BGC alleviate space constraints by opening its doors after the school day and providing additional tutors from its teaching staff. While O’Neal is able to share a site at Oak Grove because of the proximity on the north end of town, there was still a void to be met on the east side.

“My teachers know exactly what the students are working on so they can provide small group instruction where it’s needed in reading, writing and math,” Lake Road Principal Erica Weadon explained. “It’s not just homework help.”

On the first day of Power Hour at Lake Road, BGC enrollment increased from 38 to 86, according to Weadon, who said her goal is 100 targeted students, 25 per grade, first through fourth. Unlike the other offsite locations, where the BGC covers the salaries, Lake Road made a pact to pay for the tutoring if the club provides the bus drivers.

The BGC’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ funding through the U.S. Department of Education ended on June 30, which covered a large portion of its operational budget. While BGC officials are working toward securing another federal grant, they had to come up with a creative solution in the meantime to fulfill their mission: ‘To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.’

When the BGC was originally established in 1999, after school programming was implemented in the elementary schools, in addition to the club’s original Maud Street facility. Several years ago, the school district stopped operating an alternative school out of the Hentz building, and agreed to lease the facility to the BGC at a cost of only $1 per year. The South C Street facility remains the BGC’s headquarters to this day, but it is currently at capacity, at times serving upward of 500 area youth.

“It’s not just the teachers helping us out at the school,” stated Abbey Heuiser, BGC director of development. “It’s the janitors, the bus drivers, the cooks,” BGC Unit Director Katie Warren interjected. Rushin added: “Don’t forget about the technology and maintenance departments.”

The partnership is a two-way street, according to school administrators. When elementary students finish Power Hour, they are given the opportunity to go to the club, where they receive dinner and participate in enrichment activities that involve art, computers, games and sports.

“Sometimes that after school time is critical for students of working parents with challenging schedules,” Hon said. “The Boys and Girls Club provides nutrition, academic help and creative time, and those are the things a developing child needs to succeed.”

From the 2010/11 school year to last year, 72 percent of regular BGC attendees at the elementary level improved their grades, 95 percent did not exceed the maximum allowable absences and 13 out of 24 students with documented discipline referrals were able to reduce that number by 10 percent. The improvements for middle schoolers were slightly higher, according to a recent report compiled by AmeriCorps, a national community service organization that also helps staff the BGC.

“Anytime you put positive adult role models in front of students, that is a great opportunity, and when the Boys and Girls Club expends that time with them, our at risk kids always show gains,” said Poplar Bluff Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Patty Robertson, who is also a member of the BGC board. “Besides our grades going up, attendance going up and discipline going down, the bigger picture of them extending our curriculum to after school hours allows professionals to provide social, emotional and physical care for our kids.”

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Cutline: Through a strengthened partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, fourth grade students work in groups after school during Power Hour Monday, Nov. 5 at Lake Road Elementary.

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