Church program keeps youth learning during summer

Published 7:44 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

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Building on the theme “Youth are Gifted and Special,” Metropolitan Baptist Church just wrapped up another year providing summer education for Suffolk children.

Wednesday, Aug. 9 was the final day of the summer program, which is ending as students prepare to head back to class after Labor Day.

Youth Pastor of Education and Director Rev. Dr. Donald Everett said the church’s program is designed to enrich what schools are doing. Additionally, it provides instruction on other areas such as Bible study.

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“We’re still making it a part of [their education],” Everett said. “We have 15 students that are with five educators that are here, some of them are still substituting right now, so it’s a commitment that they’ve dedicated themselves to for the learning and teaching of our youth.”

Helping children ages 6-12, the program provides a variety of lessons in subjects ranging from reading comprehension, spelling, math and arts and crafts. Public speaking, computers, Bible study and Black history are included in their studies as well. 

Teacher Audra Harrell, who also serves with the Suffolk Public Schools division, participated by teaching the children the basics in mathematics and reading. These lessons also included both educational books and scriptures. 

Harrell said it’s important for children to choose their own books to read.

“I tell them when you choose something that you want to read, that helps you to read. Even going to the library, I tell them, ‘get a book that you like,’” she said. “You’re still learning how to read. That’s very important.” 

Harrell said God and the children inspired her to take part in the program.

“I love working with them, because they don’t know that they can do it sometimes,” she said. “They need someone to bring it out of them.”

Metropolitan Baptist Church Senior Pastor Robert L. Hobbs pointed to the positive benefits the program provides children.

“I feel that it is offering an opportunity during the summer for the kids to enhance what they’ve already gained during the regular school year and keep them charged up for the upcoming school year, which of course will begin less than a month from now,” he said. “So I think it’s a stop gap between the school semesters.”

Youth Pastor of Recreation and Activities Alexander Holland conducted the summer Bible studies, helping them to break it down.

“I think this is a really good program and we’d like to see it increase and we want to keep it going,” Everett said. “We have five seniors that are graduating within our church, and most of them have been through our programs. They have been enriched by it, and that’s why we call it a Summer Enrichment Program, because it enriches their lives.”

Hobbs said the program can expand based on parents’ enthusiasm.

“I hope that the parents will be well satisfied with what we’ve shared with the kids during the summer and that they will reinforce what we’ve done to make it even better next year,” Hobbs said.

Everett expressed his thankfulness to the parents for their involvement this summer. He said they are thankful for those who chose to bring their youth into a structured setting where they feel they are in a place that’s helping them grow. 

In all aspects, we’re around it and not just one facet of it, where they just get reading,” Harrell said. “Here they got multiple things being poured into them. And they’re responding.”