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After-school program brought to elementary school students
Dennis Earl students work on an educational activity during the after-school program offered at Dutcher Middle School. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal
Most students depend on the busing system to get to and from school. They don’t have the option to stay after school for extra-curricular activities or to get extra help with homework because they will miss the bus, leaving them stranded at school.
Dennis Earl Principal Tami Truax noticed that most of her students couldn’t afford to miss the bus, but they needed that extra help in their school work, so she brought the after-school tutoring program to them.
About 100 of Dennis Earl students live around Dutcher Middle School, so Truax moved the program to Dutcher to better assist her students.   
“It’s nice that they are developing a program for the kids that can’t go to tutoring when they need it,” said Haley Brock, Dutcher seventh grader who helps tutor Dennis Earl students. “When you’re young and there is no one at home to help you with homework, it is hard. I like to help so they know that they can do their homework.”
After a month into the program, there are about 35 students that show up every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday to get help with their homework, Truax said. The program is open to first graders all the way through sixth grade.  
Along with those students seeking help at the after-school program, there are about 15 to 20 Dutcher Middle School students who volunteer to help tutor the elementary school students, said Angela De Tomasi, Dutcher teacher who volunteers her time to supervise the tutoring program.  
“It’s great that they can walk here and walk home afterward,” De Tomasi said. “The future Dutcher students also build that connection with me and the school.”
During the after-school program, students spend the first hour doing their homework. They then have a snack and spend the next hour doing other educational activities, Truax said.
The students love the program so much that if they didn’t go to school that day, for whatever reason, they will be seen at the after-school tutoring program, she said.
“I feel like I’m getting good grades by being here,” said second grader Gabriel Arraiz, as he asked for help on his fractions. “I get a lot of help with my homework.”
Other students agree with the positive results of the after-school program.
“I get to get caught on up on my work,” said fifth grader Frankie Harris. “I get to do my homework here and sometimes I forget to do my homework when I am at home. I get extra help by being here and that helps me get better grades.”
Traux said she hopes this program will continue to grow and help more students. Dennis Earl is looking to get more tutors through the high schools and the university in an effort to get the ratio down between tutors and students.
Dennis Earl is monitoring the students involved in the after-school tutoring program in hopes of seeing positive changes within each individual student, Truax said.
“It is a joy to watch them to be able to take advantage of a program that they normally wouldn’t be able to do,” she said.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.