‘The extra edge’
Published 6:06 pm Saturday, February 6, 2016
Demetreus Walker started this school year unsure if he would graduate on time — if at all.
But his diploma now is within his grasp, he says, because of a tutoring program being hosted by Greater First Baptist Church of Orlando on Factory Street.
“I guess it’s the extra edge,” Walker said during a tutoring session on Saturday morning.
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The church started hosting tutoring in December after Betty Twitty, the graduation coach at Lakeland High School, approached the Rev. Moses Ware about how the church could help.
“We’ve been doing remediation inside the school, and we’ve always offered remediation after school,” Twitty said. But she came to realize something was missing, and it was support within the students’ own neighborhoods.
“If you can walk there, what’s the excuse?” she added.
She recruited tutors, including Ware himself, a former engineer.
The program started with one student and now has a handful coming on a regular basis, with one even traveling from Newport News.
The first success story has been Walker, who started the school year needing to pass math and English Standards of Learning tests before he could get a diploma.
“The first time (Ware) worked with Demetreus, I saw the difference,” Twitty said. “The way he could get Demetreus to see what was happening and how he made Demetreus feel good about himself.”
Walker credits the way that Ware taught him how to do algebra a different way.
“It was more hands-on, like the old-school way,” Walker said. “That played a big role.”
Walker now is working with Assistant Pastor Betty Montgomery on improving his writing skills in hopes of passing that SOL test in March.
“I’m just happy I got my math out of the way,” he said.
Montgomery said she enjoys helping to make a difference in the lives of young people.
“It’s just such an opportunity to be able to assist a young person with increasing their knowledge,” she said. “You get to see they are really yearning to learn.”
Taking a break from explaining algebraic concepts to three students, using a whiteboard in a small computer lab off the church’s balcony, Ware said the program is growing and needs more tutors.
“Once you start thinking ahead of the game, you’ve got it,” Ware said to student Robert Wilson, encouraging him through a multi-step problem.
Ware hopes students who come in the program leave not only with passing grades but also with a deeper thirst for knowledge.
“They say they can’t, but when they learn they can, that’s what gives me the greatest joy,” he said.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information about the program.