With Chromebooks in hand, Elizabethtown Independent Schools students make their way to either Wesley Hilltop House or Haycraft Park to find assistance with their studies.
On Fridays, struggling students have been given the opportunity for extra help from the school district.
At both locations, students come by for a few hours to get extra guidance and education from volunteers, teachers and tutors.
E’town’s current schedule has online and in-person students attending classes Monday through Thursday. Fridays are reserved for students to finish up assigned work or to study.
Tabitha Kerr, seventh and eighth-grade reading teacher at T.K. Stone Middle School, received information from Paige Waldron, director at Wesley Hilltop House, who had been noticing a lot of students hanging out around the area on Fridays.
Kerr wanted to take advantage of this and open both locations for students to allow them to get caught up.
Kerr said if students are behind, it can be hard if their parents need are working. She said they don’t want the gap to increase, so she wants to focus in on those students in those areas if they need extra helping catching up on work or to pass a class.
“We know it’s needed. We know it’s wanted,” Kerr said.
She also said the services provide an avenue for social emotional needs of the students, as they find themselves among other students and teachers again.
The first week, Waldron said they went door-to-door, letting families know of the new opportunity.
“They’re kind of amazed that we take that kind of time and effort to go knock on your door and say, ‘OK, come on,’” Kerr said.
For the first week, Kerr said about two students showed up altogether. On Oct. 16, a month since it was first put together, a combined total of 33 students came out with teachers from every E’town school.
“We had the resources and it just all fell into place,” Kerr said.
Kerr said the gates at Pine Crest and Glen Crest were opened so children could walk from there, and the Elizabethtown Police Department also is patrolling the area during that time.
She also said they’ve coordinated with lunch services to deliver meals at both sites on Friday, and are working with transportation to work out ways to transport students who are further away. Waldron said they also provide breakfast in the morning at Wesley Hilltop.
When a student comes to Wesley Hilltop or Haycraft Park, adults at the sites will first check and see what the student is missing, and what their classes and grades are.
From there, students will be encouraged to set up meetings with teachers they need to speak to, and if instructors or tutors are there on-site, they’ll get tutoring.
While Kerr said this method is different than the usual school environment, she said it’s a step up from these students having to work all week at their home.
Kerr said it also has been encouraging to hear from many different teachers and volunteers wanting to help. She said parents will also come by occasionally to ask questions about how to work certain technology the student is using.
Machailah Nation, a T.K. Stone student, is an online-only student. Nation said she moved to Elizabethtown last December and has been coming to Wesley Hilltop nearly every Friday to make sure she’s caught up on her work.
So far, she said it has been very helpful and those helping have been nice.
Kerr said they need more volunteers involved on a consistent basis and find other things they can do to reach out to more students and families.
She said they’ve been working on putting in a learning lab at Haycraft so students have a warm place to work in during the winter on Fridays.
“It turned into something that’s very positive for our school system in our community,” Kerr said. “It’s nice to have that kind of support ... from the board level and from our superintendent as well.”
Kerr said these Friday programs most likely will continue until regular school schedules and activities return.