Families First program finding much success in Lincoln Co. schools

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 1, 2001

A large federal grant designated by the Department of HumanServices to Lincoln County Schools last year is helping studentsand parents improve their lives in remarkable ways.

This year’s $277,000 grant has brought additional assets to theFamilies First and Prevention/Intervention programs, which areheadquartered at Eva Harris, officials said.

“We offer a real broad scope services,” Prevention/InterventionDirector Jason Case said.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the programs has been anafter-school tutoring program that began last January.

Students who need extra help with their classwork can attendtutoring sessions Monday through Thursday from 3-5 p.m. at theirrespective schools.

“Our target age is from third to ninth and tenth grades, becausethat’s where we can have the most impact,” Case said.

Teachers oversee the tutoring sessions, which are often led bystudents who are members of an academic team.

“It’s the student teachers who make this program work. Theyreally enjoy tutoring and helping other students,” said WestLincoln Teacher Dot McClendon.

Some tutors, who are usually junior high and high schoolstudents, said they also benefit from the program, either throughwitnessing the difference personal attention can make, oracademically.

“I’ve seen how it has really helped some people improve theirgrades, and it helps me because I get to study along with them,”said Clay Lambert, an eighth grade tutor.

Some of the success stories include students improving failinggrades to B’s or C’s, such as West Lincoln seventh grader LoganSmith.

“I had an F, and I pulled it up to a B in science,” he said. “Ihave a better attitude about school now.”

Tutors and teachers alike have found that many of the students,like Smith, show such drastic improvements in a short amount oftime because of the one-on-one time they have in tutoring.

“I’ve noticed when students first come in the tutoring program,their confidence is at ground level,” tutor Chris Collins said.”They don’t need someone to just work problems on paper, they needsomeone to encourage them.”

Collins mentioned how he makes sure students believe they can doanything with a little patience and persistence. He really enjoyswatching students’ confidence skyrocket in just a matter ofweeks.

The tutoring program is not only helping students findconfidence, but also helping students look at teaching as aprofession, McClendon said.

Another interesting part of the Families First andPrevention/Intervention programs is a new program to assist motherswho need extra time to complete daily errands or to relax.

The Mother’s Day Out Program, which begins Nov. 1, allowsmothers to drop their children off in a well-supervised area forabout an hour on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with anappointment, at no charge.

“We’re doing it to give some mothers a break. Maybe they need tobuy groceries, go to the bank, visit someone in the hospital orjust relax in the park,” said Families First Resource CenterCoordinator Garrett Holmes.

The Families First and Prevention/Intervention programs willalso target issues, such as drug and alcohol awareness, conflictresolution, responsibility, abuse and neglect awareness and thedangers of premarital sex through a variety of programs.

The expansion of a mentoring program in the district is alsoplanned for the upcoming year, involving more students thanprevious years.

Make A Difference Day this year on Oct. 27 was made special forlocal nursing home residents and hospital patients with the help ofelementary students from Enterprise, Loyd Star and West LincolnAttendance Centers.

“We asked them to draw and color pictures to help brightensomeone’s day,” Holmes said.

Positive Parenting Classes are also offered at Eva Harris aspart of the many programs. The six-week sessions, which begin Nov.5, help parents become better parents by teaching them basichousehold management and financial planning, among othertopics.

“We’ve seen a lot of success in that program. Many of theparticipants have been very appreciative for the knowledge they’vegained,” Case said.

Anyone interested in finding out more about any of the FamiliesFirst and Prevention/Intervention programs can contact833-1653.