February 5, 2011 in Washington Voices

Tutoring – and cookies

By The Spokesman-Review
 
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Christ Lutheran Church has hired certified teacher Holly Moro to assist in Homework Helpers, an after-school program. Here, she helps Summit sixth-grader Lauren Walker (back to camera) with a math problem as first-graders Kate Walker, left, and Taylor Looker watch.
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Nearly a dozen kids in the homework tutoring room at Christ Lutheran Church turned it into a busy web of activity recently. They chomped on cookies, refilled glasses of lemonade and asked for help on everything from telling time to subtracting two-digit numbers.

Certified teacher Holly Moro recently launched the Homework Helpers ministry every Tuesday after school at the church. Kids can get snacks and tutoring until 6:30 p.m.

On one recent Tuesday, students in grades 1 through 6 came through the door, their homework clutched in their hands. Piles of pencils, paper and other school supplies donated by church members were waiting. “I already did my homework,” one boy said. “Did you just come for the cookies?” asked Moro.

The session got off to a fairly easy start with students working on their own. But soon the calls for help started coming. “OK, I don’t get this one,” first-grader Taylor Looker said as she puzzled over a clock face. “Holly, I need your help,” said another.

Moro was kept busy going from table to table. In some cases, the older students gave tips to the younger ones. “They’ll start helping each other and they don’t even need me,” Moro said. “It’s funny how they do that.”

Moro, who subs for Central Valley, suggested the new ministry not long ago. “Our church is struggling with attendance,” she said. “We are trying to figure out different ways to reach out to the community.”

The goal was to provide a safe place for kids after school while also offering homework help. Moro said she picked Tuesday afternoons because the nearby Community of Christ Church has its own after-school tutoring program on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Right now all the students who come every Tuesday are enrolled in Christ Lutheran’s after-school child care program, so they’re just down the hall. The students get to choose whether they want to come for tutoring or stay in their usual room. Most are happy to choose tutoring. “They love coming to it,” Moro said. “I don’t know if it’s the cookies.”

Ellie Daniel, a second-grader at South Pines Elementary, said she would come every day if she could. “I come so Holly can help me,” she said.

Summit School sixth-grader Lauren Walker said she has several reasons for coming. “So I can get my homework done,” she said. “So I can get cookies.” As an added bonus, if she gets her homework done she can have fun when she gets home. “I can play video games or something.”

Moro said she would have to get some more help before expanding the program, which she would like to eventually offer to middle school and high school students. “Ideally we’d like to have a room for elementary, a room for middle schoolers and a room for high schoolers,” she said. “There have been a few people in our church who have said they really want to help.”

But word hasn’t gotten out yet and the program is still small enough for Moro to handle on her own. “Hopefully by next fall we’ll be a little bit more well-known,” she said. “If I were to expand and I could get a partner to help me out, I would probably do Mondays, too.”

There is no charge for the program. “The church provides the treats and the space and any school supplies, too,” she said.

Children who attend Broadway Elementary can take the No. 33 bus to the church, which stops in the parking lot. North Pines Middle School and Barker Center are within walking distance of the church, which is at the corner of Broadway Avenue and McDonald Road.

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