In partnership with the Horizon Student Enrichment Program in Rumson, and donated space in the River Street Commons, the RBR SOURCE was able to create a valuable evening tutoring program for students in the community.
Press release from Red Bank Regional High School
Red Bank Regional High School offers many opportunities for their students to excel and succeed, including after-school tutoring at the high school. Recently, though, math teacher Sunny Lenhard identified an unmet need.
“One day I had two students at my door at 7:30 in the morning, asking, pleading for help,” she recalls. Their homework paper was worn through from their constant erasures. They exclaimed, ‘We can’t go to after-school help because of sports and no one for ten miles around here knows how to help with this math!’”
She discovered that other students had similar needs — especially if they had to leave directly after school for work or home obligations. She mentioned the issue to Suzanne Keller, Freshman Academy Supervisor, and director of THE SOURCE, RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program, whose mission is “To remove all obstacles that impede the success of young people in the community.”
Ms. Keller presides over the SOURCE’s community advisory board, and brought the need to that entity. Lori Hohenleitner, the Executive Director of Horizons Student Enrichment Program (based in Rumson) and The SOURCE advisory council member, thought this presented a great opportunity to help out RBR and also fulfill her organization’s desire to expand their services at the high school level.
For many years, Horizons has served the surrounding community by identifying students from kindergarten who could benefit from a summer enrichment program aimed at stemming the academic slide that occurs during the summer break from class. At donated space at Rumson Country Day School, children from kindergarten through eighth-grade (the same children return year after year) take academic classes to preserve and advance their reading, math and science skills. They also get plenty of time for fun and exercise with a five-day swimming program under the supervision of the aquatics team from The Community YMCA.
“The kids love the program so much, we have a 90 percent retention rate,” Ms. Hohenleitner explains.
Her organization provided support for teacher tutoring, which is staffed by RBR’s own teachers who students feel very comfortable with and know their assignments.
Key to the program’s success was procuring a place students could easily access. The wonderful folks at River Street Commons allow the RBR Horizons Tutoring Program to use their bright great room two evenings a week from 6 to 7:30 pm without charge.
“The location is perfect,” Suzanne Keller states. “kids can access it easily.”
It has worked out perfectly for RJ Ethridge, who takes the late bus from RBR with his buddies after track practice and is left off just two blocks away.
He states, “This is a luxury for me. I come after practice and get my homework done. It is a good feeling.”
Six RBR teachers alternate working the two days a week, and National Honor Society students help out. The program also provides dinner for the students while they are working. Sometimes the kids even bring their little brothers or sisters, who they are watching. The younger students sit quietly and do their own homework next to their big brothers and sisters.
The tutoring began in February in the third-marking period and is also already bearing fruit. RBR tutor Kevin New is coordinating the program.
“They are starting to ask for help now, and feel more empowered,” says New. “They are also seeking help from the National Honor Society kids, who were always available to them, but now they know them and feel comfortable going to them.”
Sunny Lenhard agrees, commenting, “Some kids are now raising their hands and contributing. It is building self confidence among kids who used to say, ‘I don’t do math.’”
The program has also caught on with the kids. Where Kevin New had initially identified about 40 students in the freshman class who could benefit from the tutoring, initially only eight came. Now most days, he has a full room of over 30 students. He has even had requests from upper classman to come.
“They are starting to realize that they can come, hang out with their friends and get some homework done.”
And something else is happening: they are beginning to help each other and relate to each other in ways they never did; not just for socializing, but to work as a team to better understand their school work.
Sunny Lenhard believes this is helping to create a culture of learning rather than viewing homework as drudgery. She explains that there is a different mentality to putting something on paper to just gain the credit and doing it correctly, and they are working with a peer to help improve. She hopes to continue it next year, and expand it to support other grades.”
RJ would love to be able to avail himself of the program beyond his freshman year. He most encapsulates its purpose and reflects its success as he states, “The program is pretty amazing. I used to struggle and now I don’t struggle as much and I give a lot of credit to the tutoring here.”