YMCA, local schools partner to develop after-school tutoring program — and we can help
Here’s a golden opportunity for any of us in the Wenatchee Valley to be a volunteer tutor two hours a week and help inspire a few elementary students.
The Wenatchee YMCA has after-school childcare programs at six schools in the Cascade, Wenatchee and Eastmont school districts — making it the largest childcare provider around, serving nearly 400 kids a day.
Now the YMCA is launching two new programs this fall to enhance those learning efforts, thanks to a community grant given by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction designed to help kids overcome learning challenges due to the pandemic.
Beginning in September, the Y will offer one day of tutoring a week and one day of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programming at each of its six elementary childcare sites (Grant and Lee elementary schools in East Wenatchee, Lincoln and Sunnyslope schools in Wenatchee, and Alpine Lakes in Leavenworth.
I had the opportunity recently to sit down with two talented young women who are setting up the program for the YMCA — Melissa Brimhall and Mia Lopez. Brimhall, the program coordinator, studied social work and business, while Lopez, who is attending Wenatchee Valley College, has worked in the after school programs for the Y in the past. They’re working with local schools to develop a strong curriculum.
The OSPI funding will support STEAM clubs at each of the after-school programs, with weekly hands-on learning projects, such as making smores in a solar-powered box, help kids get excited about learning and trying new things.
As they described the tutoring program, it occurred to me that the opportunity being created makes it simple for anyone who is enthusiastic about reading and working with kids to make a powerful difference in the lives of a few kids in the valley. I can’t think of a more important project than helping elementary kids succeed.
Now we just need volunteer tutors to step forward and participate. Ask anybody who has tutored and they’ll tell you that meaningful engagement with kids can make all the difference in their academics and their lives.I have a smidgen of experience with this kind of effort.
Here’s how the YMCA tutoring program is going to work. One day a week at each of the locations, volunteer tutors will meet with individual students for 30 minutes. Over a two-hour period (from 4-6 p.m.), volunteers will work with one student every 30 minutes.
The YMCA will provide training and curriculum, so volunteers don’t need to worry about having special expertise. The focused attention of an adult is critical. “Sometimes all they need is that one connection in order to blossom,” Brimhall told me.
Our local students and our schools need us like never before. The tutoring program offered by the YMCA in collaboration with the local school districts creates a golden opportunity to pay it forward for students who could use some extra help. Volunteers need to have a passion for encouraging kids, pass a standard background check and be willing to commit two hours a week for a minimum of a semester.
Spencer Taylor, the director of elementary education for Eastmont schools, believes this project will help students, support the teaching environment and create a rewarding experience for kids.
“Adding tutoring and STEAM will provide our students with much needed additional academic support and enriching learning experiences for our students,” he said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Kory Kalahar, who is in charge of learning and teaching in the Wenatchee schools. “Community partnerships such as this are what make the Wenatchee Valley so amazing,” Kalahar said.
I have long believed that the most important civic contribution we could make for the long-term health of the valley would be to develop a robust mentoring/tutoring program in every elementary school. This YMCA program could be the start of a powerful way to help more of our kids succeed.