Falcons cornerback Robert McClain is expected to visit the school in south Marietta, accompanied by cheerleaders and the Falcons mascot this afternoon to read students books and get them excited about the homework club, said Simone McKinney, who works for SCANA Energy.
The natural gas supplier is sponsoring the four-year homework center at LaBelle, just as its four-year center at nearby Birney Elementary wraps up, said McKinney.
Birney Principal Michael Perkins said the school administration is sad to see SCANA’s homework center go, as the four-year program became a cornerstone in his students’ experience at the school.
Perkins said the school is actively looking for grant funding to continue a similar sort of homework club in the future.
This is the first after school homework club to be offered at LaBelle, said the school’s principal, Sue Stanton, which will provide a good opportunity for some of the school’s most-needy students to get some extra help.
LaBelle is, “a high poverty school,” Stanton said.
“This gives us the opportunity to offer something free to our kids who need it the most to get that homework help. Especially with implementing Common Core, it’s different than the way we were taught, it’s a different way of thinking, it helps the parents a lot,” to have the homework club for their students.”
SCANA Energy will fund the twice-weekly homework club for the next four years, at an estimated annual cost of $12,000, and will pay for teachers and assistants to run the club, as well as snacks and materials, McKinney said.
The company has been sponsoring four-year homework clubs at Title 1 schools since 1998, McKinney said, and only runs programs at Title 1 elementary schools where they feel the extra help will have the most impact.
LaBelle was invited to have the homework center, said the new homework center manager, Leshon Graham, and is excited for the extra opportunity to help students.
Third-, fourth- and fifth- grade teachers at LaBelle have selected a total of 30 students to participate in the center. Many have struggled to turn in completed homework already this year, Graham said.
“We have a high population whose parents do not speak English and cannot help students with homework at home,” she said, estimating about 60 percent of the school’s 700 students were Hispanic.
Denise Wright and Edith Kincade, both fourth grade teachers at LaBelle, as well as Rosalyn Corner, who works with the school’s third graders, and Graham, will be running the homework center every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., Graham said.
Stanton hopes that the center will also help to improve test scores and decrease time spent in the classroom re-teaching material covered in homework assignments.
LaBelle Elementary school is on the list of schools to be considered for a rebuild with the SPLOST IV funds, as a consolidation with Belmont Hills Elementary. LaBelle offers 94 percent of its students free and reduced lunches, said Stanton.
SCANA Energy funds elementary school homework centers in East Point, Macon, Norcross, Rome and Tucker, McKinney said.