Jun 6, 2011
From staff reports
The idea is a simple one. Help tutor children and watch their grades improve.
Pamela Pate, coordinator of the Ohio University AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program, has joined Grace Christian Center Pastor Leon Forte and church secretary Marlo Tinkham to go beyond simply helping students with their schoolwork -- they want to help children improve their lives.
In 2010 they formulized the idea for The Jethro Project. The project is an after-school program that tutors students, gives them a meal and a ride home, and time to just simply be a kid.
The first step in moving forward with The Jethro Project was giving it scope and figuring out where they could make the most impact.
"We targeted eighth graders (added sixth and seventh graders later) that were on the bubble," Forte said. "People who needed help, people that with a little bit of aid, would go on to the ninth grade."
Pate was able to involve Athens Middle School as a launching point for the Project. She also drew volunteers from OHIO's Patton College of Education and Human Services to help as mentors and tutors for the junior high students.
The relationships the mentors form with the students often go beyond school, as they become surrogate big brothers and big sisters. The improvement seen so far is exciting to everyone involved. Not only are their grades up, but their behaviors and overall confidence has grown greatly.
"They (students) tell us things that aren't just about school and we help them deal with everyday life," said Courtney Walls, an education major from Ohio University.
It is the relationship between the mentors and the students that has spurred much of the success of Jethro.
"Our mentors are very important. Our mentors, literally, are the lifeblood of our program" Forte said.
The project has seen almost instantaneous success since first debuting in spring 2010. It has been a positive experience for both the mentors and the students.
"The fact that they come back when they don’t really have to get on the bus every Tuesday and Thursday means a lot," said Julia Schott, a middle childhood education major at OHIO.
To watch a video about The Jethro Project, click here*.