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Local church offers free after-school tutoring
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A volunteer with the The Learning Zone, a free after-school tutoring program offered by First Presbyterian Church, helps a student with her homework. - photo by Photo Contributed

First Presbyterian Church is giving back to some of Turlock’s youngest residents with The Learning Zone, a free after school tutoring program for kids in first through sixth grade.

The Learning Zone offers one-on-one tutoring to students for an hour and a half per week. Sheri Cripe, a director at The Learning Zone, said the program mainly targets students from Julien, Crowell, Denair and Dennis Earl elementary schools because these schools are closest to the church. The church passes out flyers to the schools, and teachers generally recommend students for the program. Cripe said First Presbyterian Pastor Craig Wright came up with the concept for a church sponsored after-school program. Church elders agreed, and volunteers started the program because they saw a need for a free one-on-one after-school program in Turlock.

“We just really felt there was a need. Private tutoring can be very expensive,” Cripe said.

The pilot program from The Learning Zone started in spring of 2010 with a few students. The tutoring program was a success, and it was expanded and officially started in fall 2010.

Many volunteers are former teachers or have experience in tutoring. High school students from local Key Clubs also volunteer to tutor the younger students. A learning director oversees every tutoring session, and all three learning directors are retired teachers.

“It’s important to us that they are receiving quality, one-on-one tutoring,” Cripe said.

The Learning Zone hopes to expand their tutoring program to accept 80 students in the near future, doubling the size of the program. In order to keep their one-on-one format they will need more volunteer tutors. Volunteers at The Learning Zone are all fingerprinted and background checked. Tutoring sessions are held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays because of the half day at Turlock schools.

“We’re thrilled to have so much student participation, and we would love to expand the program with more tutors,” Cripe said.

Interested volunteers can contact the First Presbyterian Church office at 632-2324 for more information.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.