An education partner

Published 7:55 pm Friday, November 12, 2010

Talissa Mitchel, a volunteer tutor at Metropolitan Baptist Church, oversees Jamonte Ricks as he solves a multiplication problem. The church hosts tutoring sessions for community children on Wednesday evenings.

At a portable chalkboard in a church fellowship hall this week, Jamonte Ricks worked his way through a daunting math problem.

He’d been asked to solve 62,547 times 12. As he copied his work from a sheet of paper he’d brought from the table, he boasted that he wouldn’t make a mistake while his peers looked on.

He was right. When he finally produced the answer, 750,564, nearby mentors congratulated him for scoring a point for his team.

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The half-dozen students, mostly middle-schoolers, were participating in a weekly tutoring session held at Metropolitan Baptist Church. The program began with the Suffolk Steelers football team when some of the players were being suspended from the team for poor grades. It has expanded to include any student in the community, but many of the team’s coaches still help with tutoring and mentoring.

“We do have a good time here,” said Quineake Goodman, vice president of the Mentoring Executive Ministry at Metropolitan. “It helps them communicate with their peers, work as teams and helps them with their school work.”

Students come for homework help from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in October, November, and January through April, and then participate in Bible study. The tutoring is part of the fourfold ministry to the community’s youth, which also includes a summer recreation program, service learning and workshops for students and parents.

“Four years ago, we found out we had a lot of kids that were struggling with grades,” said Fred Greene, president of the Suffolk Steelers organization. “We had a lot of kids that were failing.”

Most of the tutoring sessions draw 20 to 30 children, Greene said. He would like for more students to attend, he said.

“I think it’s a good program, if more people would take advantage of it,” he said. “We can’t do but so much. We offer it, but the kids have to show up.”

Greene added Metropolitan Baptist has been a vital partner in the efforts to encourage the community’s youth.

“We appreciate Metropolitan,” he said. “They have really dedicated their time.”

For more information about the youth programs at the church, call 539-2696.