"I'm distracted at home, especially with other family members being loud when I’m trying to do school. I would like to go back in person; I don’t play sports anymore and I miss playing soccer and basketball. Now I stay at home watching YouTube and playing video games.”
“Going to school online was very hard for me, especially because of my four-year-old twin brothers; they scream a lot and that makes it hard to focus. I started having missing assignments, first one, and then it became whole bunch.”
Two middle school students shared this glimpse of what school has been like this past year.
“Missing assignments, turning in and keeping up with work has been one of the biggest struggles we’ve seen with students this year. One of our students was missing 170 assignments when they came to us. Learning to navigate middle school and manage multiple classes has been a struggle for our sixth grade students this year. The transition from fifth grade to middle school is already big, and now they’re having to do all that online, learning how to keep up with work, stay organized, submit assignments on time, communicate with teachers, navigate the internet and lots of new technology. It’s a lot,” comments Waniya, BCM’s teen academic program manager.
Enter Academic Coaching for Success (ACS). Thanks to the support of ACS and the perseverance of the student mentioned above, those 170 missing assignments are ALL turned in!
"I’m usually the first one there. We get our temperature checked, sanitize and set up our laptop. I start doing homework or missing work and Keyla is available to help if I need it. She checks to make sure we’re done with our homework and lets us know if we have missing work.” A typical afternoon at ACS, which runs Monday through Thursday from 3:30-6:30pm, always starts with a mask and temperature check and plenty of sanitizer. Keyla, the classroom leader, is constantly checking the students’ online accounts to monitor grades, missing assignments and homework. While at ACS, students work on homework, complete missing assignments, meet with a tutor and keep their planners updated. At 5pm they have a recess and snack break, followed by extra support or academic games.
Keyla, the ACS classroom leader, became connected with BCM through JobTrain, a local community partner. They gave her several options for job placement, and BCM stood out to her because it involved working with kids. “I enjoy spending time with my niece, so I went ahead and interviewed with BCM and got the job!” She is pleased to share that the students' grades are going up and they are getting better at turning in their work.
“We’ve also been teaching them how to use a planner and manage their time better. Many of them like to do math now because of the positive influence and support of their math tutors, and they even want to play math games once they’re done with their work!”
Keyla, a local college student and member of the EPA community, has also been struck by the responsibility of being a role model and realizing how much of a positive effect she can have on the lives of young people.
Each ACS student is paired with a remote tutor, meeting virtually for 45 minutes while they are at BCM. Based on areas of identified need, most students focus on math with their tutor, through a combination of homework and a workbook provided by BCM.
“My tutor asks me how my day is going, how my weekend was, what homework I have. He has me try the math first to see if I understand, and helps me if I need it. I’ve been improving in math because my tutor helps me to understand things like word problems. I used to have a B- and now I have an A-. My tutor also helps me focus, and he taught me how to be truthful. I used to lie and say that I was done with my work when I wasn’t, but now I am ready to show my work.”
“My tutor helped me get extra credit for math and practice for the standardized test. I usually never practiced, but he had me do practice quizzes, and it was helpful because they had the same kinds of questions when I took the real test. He also helps me with homework. He lets me try the work by myself but helps me if I get stuck.”
Not only are the tutors a support to our students, but the students have also been a support to one another, encouraging their peers to focus and congratulating one another on good grades and other achievements.
As we head into the last months of the school year, there is still more to be done. “Our goal is to have all of our students achieving A’s and B’s. We’re also working with them on communicating with adults, an important skill now that they’re in middle school. We are grateful to offer programming in person, since this creates normalcy and consistency for our students and allows opportunities for other adults to provide support and encouragement. Please pray that God would continue to protect us during Covid as we offer in-person programming,” shares Waniya, ACS Program Manager.