The room packed with kids looked like a classroom at any school. There were teachers, computers and white boards. But the young students weren’t in class; they were at the North Lauderdale Branch Library, after school.
They’re part of a program called “Afterschool at Your Library.” It provides snacks, games, and homework help from real teachers for elementary school kids.
“We have kids who came to us who cannot speak English or cannot write a sentence and by the end of the program in June, they’re writing poems, they’re able to read, they’re passing their grade levels and they’re moving on,” said Karen Williams, who directs the county-wide program funded by the Broward Children’s Services Council.
The teachers in the program say it’s especially rewarding for them because they’re providing help many of these kids cannot receive at home.
“Ninety-eight percent of them passed the FCAT and were promoted,” said Lizette Pacheco, who is a veteran teacher in the program. “Feels really good, it absolutely does, we are doing something great for the children.”
Last year, 420 kids registered for the free program, offered at 11 Broward County libraries and at the Village Multi-Purpose Center in the City of Sunrise. But wait, there’s more: Broward offers another free program for all ages, called Homework Help, at five libraries. No prior registration is required. Students can just just show up and get help, computer access, supplies, whatever they need.
“They can depend on having internet access, having the resources. They don’t have to worry about pencils, papers, erasers, and there’s someone who’s actually gonna look at their homework to determine if they’re doing it right,” said Vonda Bryant, learning services director for Broward County Libraries. “Many of the parents cannot help them with homework, they don’t know how to do it themselves or they can’t afford the internet access.”
The programs in Broward used to have counterparts in Miami-Dade’s public libraries, but those programs are gone; the victims of budget cuts.
However, the Children’s Trust charity does sponsor 32 after-school programs all around Miami-Dade County. (link to their website here) if they’re not convenient, your kids can get homework help on-line.