by Regina Schliep, Logan Library Work-Study Student
During this unusual school year, some neighborhood libraries have joined forces with local schools and community organizations to support virtual tutoring programs for students.
Wynnefield Library re-designed a popular STEM tutoring program that began in person in spring 2020, but was canceled due to the pandemic. The program was developed by Claire Hand, the Adult/Teen Librarian there, and Nneka Kirkland, the Biology Outreach Coordinator at St. Joseph’s University.
"The partnership between the Library and the University came about easily and naturally," says Claire, who comes from an academic background. "We saw the need for student support in Science and Math. The University’s students could provide the tutoring and the Free Library could provide the space." In the fall of 2020, the Free Library and St. Joseph's University staff successfully moved the program online, supporting middle and high school students from several local schools in geometry, algebra I and II, chemistry, biology, and physics. They hope to grow the program to support students in technology and engineering subjects as well. Working closely with parents and caregivers, tutors are helping students to find information and strengthen their skills, while also making friendly connections in challenging times.
The weekly STEM tutoring sessions take place on Mondays throughout the rest of the month of April, from 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Families of students interested are invited to contact Claire Hand via email at handc @ freelibrary.org or call 215-685-0298.
In North Central Philadelphia, work-study students from Temple University and La Salle University, as well as neighborhood library staff from Joseph E. Coleman Regional Library, West Oak Lane Library, Logan Library, Nicetown-Tioga Library, and David Cohen Ogontz Library, have partnered with Bringing Everybody Together (BET), an organization started by Richard Washington in 1994 that provides training in life-skills for community youth. The organization’s virtual after-school tutoring program, BET Helps, started as a result of COVID when the magnitude of students needing assistance was especially great. Richard Washington spoke to us about the BET Helps program:
"Phase one of BET Helps is primarily tutoring, where students of all ages can come into a virtual room and we’ll assign them to a tutor to help them with either homework or some other foundational academic practices. The reason it’s called ‘Helps’ is that it’s not just tutoring, also because we don’t want people to feel bad about needing a tutor, as some young people sometimes do. We’re just here for support. But there will eventually, in the near future, also be a room where students can come in to get advice and just talk to someone if they need. Eventually the ‘Helps’ will also be for parents and community members who can also come on and get resources."
This supportive approach to academic help is working well for students from the James Logan Community School, many of whom participate several days a week. The program is also strengthened by the fact that it includes a number of high school students who help facilitate the program by welcoming new students, managing break-out rooms, and serving as excellent role models in this caring community.
Regina is a sophomore at Temple University pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. She is involved in journalism-related extracurricular activities and hopes to work in the media side of the music industry following graduation.