Schools foundation offers homework help

January 19, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Students from Pine Lake Middle School work together on projects utilizing the school’s computer lab. File

The Issaquah Schools Foundation helps fund three after-school programs designed to help students with their homework — Club 7 at Beaver Lake Middle School, Homework Help and Labs after school at the middle and high schools, and the Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education mentor program.

The foundation’s “mission is to help students achieve the promise of their academic potential,” Executive Director Robin Callahan wrote in an e-mail. “We believe that students having access to free tutoring, and even computers after school, is the difference between school success and failure for many. In addition, we have seen the dramatic difference VOICE mentors can make in a student’s life.”

The VOICE program coordinates a volunteer with a classroom or a volunteer working one on one with a student one hour per week. Mentors are matched with students’ needs and come from a variety of backgrounds.

The program originated in elementary schools, but expanded to middle schools and the freshman campus in the last two years.

Club 7 is an after-school program at Beaver Lake for middle schoolers at risk of failing or dropping out of school. The program provides sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students with six hours of support per week to address their academic and social needs.

Lastly, the foundation helps provide funding for after-school homework help programs at each of the middle and high schools. The sessions generally take place in the school’s library and connect students with teachers, librarians and other peers.

Many high schools’ National Honor Society clubs also host after-school peer-tutoring hours, as well.

Teachers are also available to provide a helping hand. Many reserve certain days for after-school help in their particular subject matter.

Contact your child’s teacher to see when he or she is willing to meet with your child regarding extra homework help.

The King County Library System also has a range of services for students.

In Issaquah, many students use the library’s Study Zone, a free tutoring service.

One of the library system’s “initiatives is education and supporting kids with their homework,” said Annie Poyner, a Study Zone coordinators and spokeswoman. “We emphasize a positive, consistent environment to help them learn study skills, and help them actually complete their assignments and do better in school.”

In the program, students are developing good study skills to help make their homework easier, she said.

Study Zone hours in Issaquah are from 4-6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays.

The program depends on volunteer tutors who are trained by the library. Many tutors are local college students, but some are working professionals or high school students taking collegiate level courses.

Every tutor is able to help students in kindergarten through eighth grade. When high school students need work with advanced subjects, specific tutors with advanced training in subject specific curricula are also available.

“Most kids come back, because they love working with the tutors and they are doing well in school after coming to our program,” Poyner said. “They make it fun and positive.”

Beginning this year, the library system also added an online component for students to use Sundays through Thursdays.

“We are meeting a need for kids that are in between,” Poyner said, “They aren’t at that critical point where they are assigned a tutor by the school, but they aren’t in the position to afford a private tutor or are not the super-excelling kids that will get support from the schools.”

In addition to free tutoring, the Study Zone also offers free materials to complete projects, Internet service, printing, reference materials and plenty of books, which can help the family pocketbook.

Free after-school options

-King County Library — Issaquah: www.kcls.org/studyzone

-The Issaquah Schools Foundation: www.issaquahschoolsfoundation.org, click on “programs” on the top navigation bar.

-National Honor Society after-school tutoring — check your child’s school schedule for dates and times.

-Teachers’ office hours — check with your student’s teacher to obtain a schedule.

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