Corbin Snardon, assistant principal at the Paducah Innovation Hub, holds up a Batman emblem created on a 3-D printer, as elementary students attending tutoring sessions at the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club look on Wednesday during a tour of the facility.
Neal Clark, chief executive officer of the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club, considers himself a “glass is half full” guy.
While many saw only the challenges the continuing COVID-19 crisis was causing in nearly all aspects of daily life, including education, Clark saw an opportunity.
In collaboration with McNabb Elementary School and the Paducah Public Schools, Clark helped develop a pilot tutoring program aimed at students attending all-virtual classes which has now been expanded to Clark and Morgan elementary students.
“What we did was we identified some gaps in service and we wanted to make sure we were able to reach kids that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to be reached because of COVID,” Clark said.
Initially working with McNabb principal Teresa Spann and LaToya Benberry, family resource center coordinator, “we identified kids in that group (all virtual) who wouldn’t mind seeing some type of tutoring outside of what the school was offering,” he said.
Oscar Cross personnel provide help with assigned school work and social and emotional development learning for two and one-half hours. McNabb and Clark elementary students receive tutoring sessions at the club, and Morgan students receive tutoring by club personnel at the school.
“Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club has been a true life-saver for the district in terms of providing a measure of support for our virtual students,” said Will Black, Paducah Public Schools assistant superintendent.
“They’re offering to tutor virtual students from each elementary school twice a week. So we’re combining resources to provide a venue for virtual students to get tutoring help and just general support with their online learning.”
The school district provides transportation to and from the club, and breakfast and lunch for the participants, and Oscar Cross provides an afternoon snack.
“It’s really been a blessing to our district and our community. Any time we can give support to a young elementary student, it’s critical,” Black said.
“It can change the path of learning for their lifetime. In this crisis, this is a welcome resource.”
Clark said the club has been able to develop strong working relationships with the parents of all-virtual students and demonstrate the tutoring can be done observing all safety protocols, to help provide some things the students are missing since they are at home and can’t interact with other kids.
“We’re probably going to impact somewhere between 50-75 kids,” he said.
Regular trips to the Paducah Innovation Hub are also included for all three elementary schools as part of the program.
“We’ve been working with Neal over the past couple of weeks discussing ways to get students who are at the Boys and Girls Club during the day to come out to the makerspace (at the Innovation Hub) where they can have all kinds of different learning opportunities,” Black said.
“For instance, they can learn to do 3-D printing, then can learn laser engraving, learn to design and make something that could be cut on a CNC router. All kinds of science, technology and engineering projects that are offered.
“That allows kids to get some hands-on, project-based learning as well as the online learning they’ve been doing during the pandemic.”
Tim Franklin, makerspace director, said while COVID has created some challenges, the district’s vision remains to have every K-12 student experience the Hub each year.
“I know that’s ambitious, but with the coordination from the administration of the schools and the Innovation Hub, and the board office, it’s something we can attain.”
For his part, Clark continues to see opportunities for collaboration even with the coronavirus.
“I believe because of COVID, we’ve been able to address a problem that impacted everybody regardless of who they are, and we embraced the opportunity to truly connect and engage and now we’ve come up with something that’s truly unique, at least to our community,” he said.
“COVID has really provided unique opportunities for everybody. I really do appreciate the individuals within the school system that wanted to make this work and have a true partnership.”
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