Extra effort: Middle school program aims to help students

Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018
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Helpful Lessons

HELPFUL LESSONS – Bridgeport Middle School teacher Janelle Gardner has launched the Hub to help students with homework after school each Tuesday and Thursday at First United Methodist Church. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Janelle Gardner knows it’s not easy for a lot of middle school students to reach out for help on homework.

The Bridgeport teacher wants to offer help to those students by creating an inviting atmosphere complete with veteran teachers, high school mentors and even an after-school snack.

Gardner has teamed with Gabe Rangel at First United Methodist Church in Bridgeport to launch the Hub – a middle school after-school program. The Hub is held every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:45 to 5 p.m. at FUMC, 608 17th Street.

“There’s such a need,” Gardner said. “There’s a lot of homework not getting done. We want to provide them with a place to get some help and provide mentorship that will help them make the right decision.”

Gardner teaches in the Read Right program at Bridgeport Middle School, which aims to help student improve their reading and comprehension. She’s been with the district for nine years and previously taught at Andrews.

“I’ve always been in education,” Gardner said. “Just seeing the smile on a student’s face when they finally get [a lesson] is exciting.”

Gardner has several current and retired teachers committed to helping the sixth- through eighth-grade students with a variety of lessons. But a big component for Gardner is having high school students help. Many have shown a willingness to volunteer.

“Some kids don’t want to open up to teachers or parents, but they will to a high school student. They admire the high school kids,” Gardner said. “If they are having a bad day, they can say, ‘Let’s go throw the football and take a walk.'”

Volunteers have offered to bring snacks. The church is providing transportation to students that need it.

Since starting in October, Gardner said attendance has been low. She is working to spread the word and get more students active.

“We just need to plant the seed and get some excitement about it,” Gardner said.

“If we can help one child, it’s worth it. That’s all it takes.”

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