Homework Help at church making difference for students

Isis Glover, 12 (left), a student at Riverview Middle School, and Katie Brown, 11, a student at Crestview Middle School, use their laptop computers to work on their homework at the Homework Help program at St. Peter’s First Community Church. An average of 20 middle and high school students attend the session each day to complete their homework assignments, and get help if necessary.
Isis Glover, 12 (left), a student at Riverview Middle School, and Katie Brown, 11, a student at Crestview Middle School, use their laptop computers to work on their homework at the Homework Help program at St. Peter’s First Community Church. An average of 20 middle and high school students attend the session each day to complete their homework assignments, and get help if necessary. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Jan. 23, 2017.

On a gray Wednesday afternoon, 21 school kids were found hard at work — quietly — in the large fellowship hall of St. Peter’s First Community Church. They were doing their homework.

Not having a quiet, non-distractive place to do homework can make for a daunting situation that could potentially affect a student for his or her lifetime. Faulty or missed homework can lower grades, and academic grades can affect competition for scholarships, college choices and future job opportunities.

But students can find a supportive, distraction-free environment to get their work done in the form of Homework Help — or HWH.

“Basically, we’re just providing a place for middle school and high school students to work on their homework,” Megan Condry, HWH director, explains. “It’s a safe and quiet place where they can receive help from adult volunteers … They’re not around younger siblings. It’s quiet, and they can get their homework done, then they can go home and pursue other activities in the evening.”

This is the fourth year of the community-based, United Way-funded program, Condry says. It runs Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the church, located at 206 Etna Ave. And attendance at the program is up, going from an average of 14 students per day last year to around 20 per day since second semester began in January. They can catch the bus from Huntington North High School, or Crestview or Riverview Middle Schools. They get a snack and a drink, then they get to work. There is no cost for the program.

HWH provides two adult volunteers at each session who can help the students with a variety of subjects, if needed. There is also WiFi access, so kids can use their laptops and tablets to work on assignments, or go through a series of lessons on the ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) program, a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system.

Cheyenne Cottrell, an eighth-grade student at Riverview Middle School, has been coming to HWH for a year and a half, and has seen a change in her grades as a result.

“It helped me improve my math skills,” she says.

 “I used get like C’s and D’s in math and I’m starting to get A’s and B’s now.”

Katie Brown, a student at Crestview Middle School, also enjoys doing her homework away from home.

“I actually get the help I need,” she says. “It’s quiet for me to be able to do my work.”

The feedback from parents has also been positive, Condry says, especially as subjects become more difficult.

“Parents aren’t able to help their kids as much,” she says. “Homework is getting a lot harder and advancing beyond their abilities. Also, as they’re advancing to middle and high school, it alleviates the stress on that family dynamic, and they say, ‘When I get home from work I don’t have to fight with my kids to work on their homework.’ So they have this time to get it done and then they just can have a more positive experience at home.”

Parents or guardians can fill out a simple registration form to get a student started in the program. They give permission for the HWH staff to contact the student’s school to obtain grades, retrieve missing assignments and discuss the pupil’s progress.

“We have a great partnership with the schools,” Condry says. “Often we’ll have teachers that will contact us, referring students and families, saying, ‘This is what’s going on in the student’s and family’s life, and we think this might be a good fit for them.’”

For additional information, contact St. Peter’s First Community Church at 356-7728, email Condry at stpetersfirst@att.net or stop in the church’s office.