Edison State students enhance Empowering programs

Staff report

DARKE COUNTY — “This semester has been amazing! I don’t think there has ever been so much smiling, and willingness to help. There are a few students who have even surpassed what I would’ve expected out of myself,” said Jenette Stark, Program Coordinator for Greenville City Schools.

Since Empowering After School Tutoring Programs were established in 2016, Edison State Community College students have been instrumental in their success.

“Edison State students are in college,” said Empowering Darke County Youth (EDCY) Executive Director Bob Robinson. “They represent every school district in Darke County and surrounding areas, and have successfully completed the very requirements our elementary and middle school students are struggling with. The kids look up to them. Often, they will learn better from another student, closer to their own age, than they will an old guy like me.”

Robinson is an Adjunct Instructor at Edison State Community College. His primary teaching focus is Edison State’s Fundamentals of Communication. In the course, Robinson offers a community service option as an alternative to a final exam and research paper.

“Actually practicing the concepts of communication: sending, receiving, feedback, critical thinking, diversity, and more, as tools in the course, provides a great learning opportunity,” Robinson said. He added the Empowering program is one of four options; others, including the traditional research and final, are also available for students to choose.

Each semester, Stark, and her predecessor, current Board Member Kay Sloat, work to match students to tutors or volunteers based upon individual personalities, the student’s academic needs, and resources available.

“We had a student who could not read, had given up,” Stark said. “He wouldn’t even talk. Your (Edison) student got him to smile on the first day. Day two, your student got him to say a couple words, plus a lot of smiles. They worked out a secret plan; now they are a team! He’s far from grade level yet, but he’s reading! Seven books so far!”

“There are more examples,” she said, “far too many to list! Your students are rock stars!”

Not only have Edison volunteers had an impact on struggling students, but most have commented on the impact the experience has had on their own lives. Stark is a former Communications student. She, along with at least two other student volunteers over the years, changed their degree plans as a result of working in the program. Many students continued to work with “their kids” long after meeting their original commitment.

One volunteer summed up her experience, noting “This is an amazing program for both the student and the tutor. I hope it continues for many years to come.”

Another said, “This experience has really humbled me. Through this program, I made an impact on this world.”

Many student volunteers realized the impact they were having on the community. An Edison State student volunteer summed it up as follows: “Helping students is good for the community. It helps paint a picture of a supportive community, which is definitely the kind of community I would want to live in.”

Since 2016, EDCY has provided nearly 20,000 hours of academic support to more than 1,000 Darke County students. Nearly 400 Edison State students have volunteered almost 7,000 of those hours.

Empowering Darke County Youth conducts two After School Programs in Greenville (1-4 and 5-8), plus Ansonia (1-6) and Arcanum-Butler (5-8), plus Distance Tutoring, and a summer program at Greenville Public Library. For more information, visit the website: http://www.empowerdarkecounty.com, or send an email to [email protected]

The Empowering Mission: Empowering Darke County Youth is a United Way Agency providing after school and summer tutoring programs to assist students in the areas of language arts and math, with the goal of strong students for a strong community.