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Immanuel Baptist prepares to launch new tutoring program

by Jean Gosier

Immanuel Baptist Church has completed a two-year pilot tutoring program and is preparing to launch an upgraded tutoring program for 2013-14.

Each year, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards and the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests caused local children and their parents to face the spring with a lot of uncertainty and intimidation. Calvin Rideau Sr., pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, heard the concerns of his congregation and decided to take action. Quickly working with a small group of concerned volunteers, the team brainstormed problems and solutions. Family support was a key theme as many children are being raised by grandparents, and many working parents are not familiar with the required skill sets being sent home for practice as homework. The team developed a pilot project to remove some of the barriers that seemed to prevent the children from achieving honor roll, advancing out of special ed or remedial services such as Title I, or passing the Virginia SOLS.

The pilot project was held from September 2010 through June 2012 with approximately 30 children and 20 tutors. The overall results were very promising. Accomplishments included a few students who were identified, supported and successfully entered the school’s gifted program. A student was mainstreamed out of special ed into regular classes all while achieving honor roll status. Other students improved failing grades to passing grades, while some students achieved honor roll status and/or Student-of-the-Month honors for the first time. Students also achieved 100% scores on their Virginia SOLS, and other students finally passed their Virginia SOLs for their first time.

Tutoring sessions were held on Mondays and Thursdays. The students stood before their peers and proudly shared their successes and received their deserved applause from a proud and supportive crowd. The goal was to remove the stigma that excellence was not expected from peers. Contests for earning 100% on graded assignments encouraged the spirit during the two years.

Rev. James T. Hill Sr. of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Bruington, who is the moderator of Southside Rappahannock Baptist Association, introduced a unique reading program that included students in the counties of Middlesex, King and Queen and Essex. In the fall of 2011, the Immanuel Baptist Church tutoring program became his first participating book club.

The children received donations of over $250 by a generous group of local women to purchase multiple copies of age appropriate books. Each month the children would read to one another in small groups of three and complete book reports for prizes and recognition. At the end of the 2012 school year, the Middlesex County Woman’s Club generously awarded a gift of $200 to house and maintain the library collection.

In addition to the academic tutoring, the children had the opportunity to gain leadership and presentation skills. In February 2011, the children participated in the Middlesex County Museum’s Black History Program “A Night At the Museum” in which they paid tribute to many local and national role models.

In February 2012, the children presented a skit to pay tribute to the 13 Middlesex County children who integrated schools in the fall of 1963. This was presented to a public audience at the Middlesex County Courthouse and to a student audience at St. Clare Walker Middle School.

Snacks for the children were donated by local groups such as the Cryer Center, Hands Across Middlesex and generous church members.

Bus transportation was provided by the Middlesex County Public Schools, and the Middlesex County NAACP donated supplies.

Retired educators in the area also provided books, materials and resources as needed.

The chairperson of the two-year pilot project, Joan E. Gosier has been working on completing the required documentation to build and fund a new program for the 2013-14 school year. The new program will incorporate elements from the pilot within the following framework:

  1. Parent education which will be a requirement for participation.
  2. Focus on early learning preparation,.
  3. Tutorial support for SOLs and exposure to science, technology, math and engineering careers.
  4. Cultural enrichment and literacy through book club groups.
  5. Leadership and presentation skills.
  6. Preparing healthy snacks and promoting positive lifestyles.
  7. Training and developing supportive volunteer and stipend supported tutorial staff.

Pastor Rideau said he is thankful for all of the community support, especially the cadre of volunteers who diligently showed up each week and shared their gifts and talents with the children. Over the next 11 months, he welcomes all input, resources and support from the community-at-large in preparing for the 2013-14 launch.

More information and resources can be obtained at http://www.ibctutor.com.

Jean Gosier is the chairperson/director of the Immanuel Baptist Tutoring Program (2010-2012).

posted 10.03.2012

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