GREENVILLE — The board of directors for local nonprofit Empowering Darke County Youth held their annual public meeting last week.
The Empowering program provides free after school and summer tutoring programs to assist students in the areas of language arts and math. Sessions during the school year take place at Greenville Elementary on Monday through Friday afternoons, while those for the planned summer tutoring program would take place at the Greenville Public Library, or at Edison State Community College’s Darke County campus in Greenville. The program is open to all Darke County students at all grade levels.
“We have many success stories,” the group’s board claimed in a press release issued recently. ”Nearly every student who has consistently participated has improved academically, in some cases dramatically.”
Those success stories, the group says, come primarily through feedback from parents, teachers, and staff. They also consider the increase in demand for the program’s services to be a form of success in itself.
“Requests have nearly doubled, and they’re only going to get bigger,” program coordinator Bob Robinson said.
Robinson reported that, according to tracking done by Greenville school administrators, students participating in the after-school tutoring program have shown statistically significant improvements in reading and especially math.
“They’re getting all the same benefits as the other students, plus what the after school program has to offer,” Robinson said.
The board elected new officers at Thursday’s meeting, including new treasurer Susie Miller and assistant program coordinator Melissa Eve. Eric Fee, Kendra Chalmers, and Rhonda Williams were reelected as president, vice president, and secretary, respectively, while former treasurer Krista Stump voluntarily stepped down from the board, fearing her status as a newly elected member of the Greenville school board could potentially create a conflict.
Before resigning, Stump delivered her final report as treasurer.
“I’ve been here since the beginning,” Stump said, “and I feel like we’re now really starting to get up some steam.”
The program is currently seeking volunteers to work with students, as well as to serve and provide snacks. The program’s main goal is to build a large volunteer support base, as well as to bring in a volunteer coordinator to help seek financial support for the funding of licensed tutors, as well as transportation and educational materials such as books, paper and pencils, markers, and so on.
The hope is to eventually offer the program’s services to school systems outside Greenville, including Ansonia, Mississinawa Valley in Union City, Ohio, and Tri-Village Schools in New Madison. But that will require building the group’s staff of volunteers, according to Robinson.
“We started this year with a waiting list of 35 students,” Robinson said. “We’ve gotten that down to 20 now, but on an average day we’re dealing with two or three students per tutor.”
The program started in May 2016, and since then program volunteers have interacted with over 200 elementary and middle school students. Some of those volunteers shared their stories at Thursday’s meeting.
“I just started in January, and it’s been a lot of fun,” assistant program coordinator Melissa Eve said. “You really do see the progress. Every kid I’ve talked to loves the program. They’re sad when they’re not able to be there.”
Greenville substitute teacher and volunteer Steve Plessinger shared similar sentiments.
“It really is a worthwhile program,” Plessinger said. “I would love to see more students be able to be a part of it.”
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