Hoover Community School and Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula Partnership Recognized For Their After School Tutoring Progress
After school tutor Carolina Avina knows a few hours after school can change a student’s life. She remembers feeling crushed when a Hoover Community School kindergartener told her he didn’t want to be there when the school year began.
“He would just move around. He didn’t want to do anything. I could see he had trouble reading,” Avina said. “It made me sad. But he’s changed a lot. If you look at him now, you see that he listens. He even comes to me and tells me he wants to read to me.”
Like Avina’s student, hundreds of Hoover students are seeing their school performance improve thanks to a relatively new after school tutoring partnership between Hoover Community School and the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula.
Educators from both institutions share school space and resources to make sure students improve their grades, and in some cases their behavior, by the end of the school year, educators involved in the project said. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
The San Mateo County Office of Education awarded the program the Excellence in Education and Equity Award in May for making a difference in students’ lives.
The partnership also was recognized with the J. Russell Kent Award presented by the San Mateo County School Boards Association.
Avina can attest to this success first hand. She has witnessed several students make radical transformations with a few hours of school tutoring a day, she said.
“I asked them, do you know the alphabet? And they’d say, no. I asked them, do you know your colors? They knew some of them,” she said. “They grew a lot compared to the first day where they didn’t know how to spell or read. I work with them. And they start to bring their own books and they read to me.”
She knew she had made her mark when the students understood the words in her attire.
“I wore a T-shirt that said: I love my job and they were reading it to me,” she recalled with joy. “I realized they could read the words in my shirt. I was so happy”
“As a public school district, we are prepared to educate every Redwood City child,” said Pati Ortiz, the district’s director of community schools and partnerships. “While our teachers practice differentiation, we also count on and appreciate the additional support of partners such as the Boys and Girls Club with whom we work so closely.”
She says that these partnerships help break barriers to “make sure all students have the resources to achieve their full potential regardless of socio-economic background, helping ensure that an equitable, great education is a reality for all children.”
More than 270 students who enrolled in the program stay at school until 6 p.m. and learn to tackle subjects they were having difficulty understanding, said Kathryn Rice, Unit Director with the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula.
It’s not all grammar and math equations. The students also get to play sports and exercise, she said. In addition, a case worker tracks their progress of every middle school student enrolled as the academic year progresses, she said.
“We have one on one meetings with the students. We review grades and address any challenges that are preventing students from academically successful,” she said. “We help them organize their backpack or help them use their planner. We help them in any area they may need help with.”
Enrollment is voluntary, though Rice said there are instances where teachers would recommend a student who needs extra help.
The club’s 17 after school instructors and school teachers have developed a cooperative rapport, said Ramiro Carranza, principal of Hoover Community School. They share students’ grades, records, and work out a plan for each student’s needs.
“It’s hard to pin point all the good things that they do for us,” he said. “The families see us as a unit. They are coming into Hoover and the Boys & Girls club at the same time.”
The partnership extends to every classroom. Avina, who’s a new tutor, said she also learned teaching techniques from sharing a classroom with a Hoover school teacher.
“I would ask her for advice on what to do if a kid was struggling. And she was giving me some of her material she didn’t use or used already. I learned how to teach them certain materials,” she said. “If I didn’t have her there, I feel like I would have struggled a lot.”
The program sets itself apart from others like it because their goals align with the school district’s Local Control Accountability Plan, which calls for both academic and well-being support. It also helps that the students don’t have to leave campus, educators said.
Mr. Carranza said he felt especially humbled by the excellence award because it recognizes educators who work together to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in San Mateo County. The school received a $5,000 grant to continue expanding the program.
He said he’s already brainstorming on new ideas to keep making a difference on after school students’ lives.
“It gives me an opportunity to relate to the kids after school. I see kids that once they go through the mentoring program, they improve,” he said. “You can see their growth. They really start maturing. You see it by the way they address you.”
He said their growth was even more visible at their eighth grade graduation ceremony.
“I almost cried. To just see them graduate and being successful and see their families out there with them, it makes you realize that what we are doing is worth it,” he said. “They are fortunate to have that support for the entire day. Many may not get that at home.”
In their graduating speech they thanked their mentors and families, he remembered.
“It really makes you feel good inside,” he added. “We still have a lot of growth to do. We’ll continue to collaborate. But I’m just so happy to have boys & girls club on campus. It’s a great partnership.”
The San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee shared their enthusiasm.
“The Hoover Community School’s after school program is an excellent example of collaboration that directly improves conditions of learning for students. By closely aligning the after school programming of the Boys and Girls Club with students’ school day experiences, this innovative partnership creates a positive school climate that enables all students to thrive,” she said.