After School Help: Tutoring at Local Libraries

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By Maggie Pruitt

A little girl comes to Mounce Library every Tuesday to get help with her homework. She gives Elaine Platt a hug and an excited smile when she tells Elaine about finally making the honor roll.

Clara B. Mounce Library and Larry J. Ringer Library offer two separate after-school homework help programs for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Both libraries have had no trouble finding eager and qualified tutors who help every weekday.

“We have more tutors than kids coming in right now,” says Mounce librarian and former educator Elaine Platt of Mounce’s after-school homework help program, Bringing Up the Grades.

According to Platt, she and every tutor at Mounce are there to serve every kid who walks in the doors. The benefit to the Bringing Up the Grades program is it’s free of charge, accessible, has quality college-aged and teenage tutors, and it’s at a familiar place.

There are a few bilingual tutors who volunteer at Mounce and are there on select days to offer free bilingual tutoring.

Differing from Mounce Library, at Larry J. Ringer Library, librarian Cynthia Oser has teen volunteers who come daily to help run the Homework Help program as well as various programs for kids. Ringer Library advertises help from high school students for elementary and middle school students, which is slightly different from Mounce’s Bringing Up the Grades Program.

Too many kids slip through the cracks according to Oser, who used to work with juvenile delinquents. “I was tired of seeing the end result,” she says of why she decided to be a librarian. “We’re a great equalizer here. We help everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are.”

At Ringer, the Homework Help program is set up not only to help students with their schoolwork, but to also help parents understand how to help their children with homework.

“The math is different now, and some parents move from other places and are not English-speakers,” says Oser.

In addition to the Homework Help programs, Oser also gives the teenage volunteers autonomy in organizing programs for the library and younger children. “We’ve had mud wars, lock-ins, and two flash mobs. One time they filmed a music video about what not to do in a library,” she says.

Other programs teens help with at Ringer include: Special Moments In a Library Environment, or SMILE, a story time program designed for families with children with special needs; a skills workshop program for teens who are looking to apply to paying jobs; an Anime club; a “Clay-Tato” workshop in which students can sculpt out clay and potatoes; and family story times, movie nights, and activities.

Clara B. Mounce Library is located at 206 E. 26th St. in Bryan and Bringing Up the Grades homework help is provided weekly on the second floor of the library Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 6:45pm.

Larry J. Ringer Library is located at 1818 Harvey Mitchell Pkwy S. and the Homework Help program is offered weekly on Monday and Wednesday from 4pm to 7pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm to 6pm, and Friday from 4pm to 5pm.