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HOMEWORK HOTLINE

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By Camille McClanahan

When things get tough, some Grant County students don’t even bother going home after school, they head for the Williamstown United Methodist Church and the Homework Hotline.

There, they are greeted warmly, given an after school snack and get help with their hardest subjects, absolutely free.

Monty Joe Lovell, a former principal at Grant County High School and his wife, Belinda, also a former teacher and principal, had a vision for the program.

As retired educators, they are still tuned-in to what is happening in Grant County schools and knowing their church had many retired teachers and other capable adults, the Lovells, brought the idea to the administrative council of the church.

“ESS is the program that allowed for tutoring during after school hours, and teachers did that,” Lovell said. “It was something that was being funded by the government and now, there’s been so many cut-backs that there is no money at all for that. So we’re just doing it to try to help until hopefully we can get our funding straightened out over the next few years, and get that back in the schools because they need it pretty bad.”

The Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) has a provision that requires instructional time be provided outside of the regular classroom schedule. That extra instructional time is known as Extended School Services (ESS).

However, Kentucky’s ESS programs have been subject to substantial financial cuts resulting in the elimination of some after school tutoring programs.

According to the Lovells, most students who come for help are struggling with the fundamentals.

“Math and English,” Lovell said. “If you look at it: reading, writing and arithmetic are your three basic areas and they have not changed. You have to be knowledgeable in those areas to be able to express yourself. You’ve got computers, but nonetheless, a computer is only as smart as the person putting the data in the computer. So, if you put it in right, it will come out right.”

He said that they are seeing the students in the program gain ground in understanding; however, because the program is new, its effectiveness is hard to quantify.

“It helps me with my math and how to figure my problems,” Michael Brown, a sixth grader at Grant County Middle School, said. “He (Lovell) helped me learn the value of fractions.”

Alan Bell, who has a degree in industrial technology, wasn’t sure if he would be qualified to help the children, but found his background in physics was more than ample to help them, who usually come with basic math problems.

“Today, I’m working on common denominators, Bell said. “They just need to get down to the ground rules of how to do it. It’s a slow process sometimes, but that’s why they’re here, they need help.”

Currently, there are eight members who volunteer their time, as well as others in the community.

“We have Alice Hartman, she is working with one of our students,” Lovell said. “She works upstairs, because she needs the quietness and she does a really good job for us, and she is not from our church, but she is willing to come in and help. We have several other people who have come in periodically. We have Kay Collins, she’s a retired teacher. Just people who have been in education or students who are in high school who can help the elementary kids.”

According to Lovell the program is a win-win outreach for the children, the church and the schools.

“We’re doing it as a witness for our church, and to bring a lot of kids into the church, which most of these are the member’s children or grandchildren, but sometimes you reach people who couldn’t be reached otherwise,” he said. “And that’s the other interest in the program, that we involve kids in the community that may not be involved in church. It’s just a witness and we’re witnessing with education. We would encourage other churches to do the same thing. I’m sure they’ve got some retired teachers or have some people who have been around education. It’s a form of witness, but it can also help the schools to get help that they can’t afford to pay for.”

For more information or to register for the Homework Hotline, call  Belinda Lovell at 859-824-5747 or 859-242-0140.

WUMC OFFERS FREE SERVICE

Wednesdays
3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
859-823-5171
Contact: Monty or Belinda Lovell
Williamstown United Methodist Church