Elementary school students attending the Big Creek People in Action’s (BCPIA) afterschool program in McDowell County, West Virginia, know that thanks to Americans Helping Americans each evening before they go home they will receive a nice supper, along with the tutoring and mentorship they need to succeed in their schoolwork.
However, on occasion they are surprised with a nice and educational learning experience that makes a big difference in their young lives.
Such was the case a few days before Thanksgiving when they were given the opportunity meet McDowell County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Dalton Martin, along with his K9 partner, Azra.
“When he showed up, we had our kids outside swinging under the gazebo discussing what we were all thankful for since Thanksgiving was so near,” reported BCPIA co-executive director Dyanne Spriggs.
“He came in with a “BANG” as he was still on duty — pulling over a group of all-terrain vehicle riders who for driving recklessly,” she told us. “When he was finished dealing with them, he came towards us telling the children, ‘That is not how you drive an ATV!'”
Dyanne noted that Deputy Martin “spoke to our kids about life lessons such as wearing seatbelts, being kind and respectful to others and always saying “NO” to drugs, as well as explaining what the duties of Azra were and how he takes care of her.
“Our kids were allowed to pet Azra and see the inside of his police vehicle,” she said, adding “and showed them how all the lights and sirens worked. They were also shown how they use night vision tools along with Azra’s ability to track down criminals.
“It was truly a good visit and learning experience for our kids to see and meet an officer from our county — GREAT experience for ALL!”
In addition to providing students with the individualized attention they need to keep up with their classmates after school, BCPIA, with support from Americans Helping Americans, also sponsors an in-school tutor at the local elementary/middle school, Southside K-8.
Kayla, who is working her first year as the in-school tutor for kindergarten/first grade mixed class, reported that “Since I’ve been here, I have been able to see how many kids truly need help with their schoolwork.”
Among the challenges of tutoring students at both the kindergarden and first grade levels is that “I believe this has caused some kids to not be able to understand the work that they are doing and they often get confused when doing their work and others in the class are doing something else.”
However, each day she sees progress being made in her first-grade students.
Among them is Payten who often has trouble doing basic math or writing.
“I’ve been able to help him one-on-one and I’ve seen such an improvement,” she said. “Before, he wouldn’t do his work and he would always just put a random answer down when doing math.”
However, “I’ve been able to help him count with his fingers or by using counters. He is now able todo all of his math work by himself with little to no help.”
And when it comes to writing, Kayla says, “I’ve helped him be able to form his thoughts about a story into a coherent sentence and I’ve helped him learn how to spell.
“Payten will need continuing support…but I think I have made a difference in his life and have helped him do better in class.”