Nonprofit aims to help Wake's struggling students

Posted February 18, 2010 10:21 a.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2010 10:28 a.m. EST

— More than 1,600 students dropped out of the Wake County Public School System last year, and one organization is fighting that trend.

First-grader Danielle Childress said the tutoring she receives four days a week after school at the Heritage Park Learning Center has helped.

“They help me do my work and always help me get my stuff right,” she said.

The Heritage Park Learning Center is one of five learning centers operated by the nonprofit group Communities in Schools of Wake County.

All are nestled in Raleigh's public housing communities, where kids might lack resources and family support.

“There is a mentoring piece in place that students are so glad to have someone outside the community to come in to help out with homework,” said Melodie Braswell with Heritage Parking Learning Center.

The volunteers include college students, law students and corporate employees who tutor 130 students in five centers, grades kindergarten through 12th. Many of the students were failing school just a few years ago.

“We have seen a major progress,” Braswell said.

Fifty-six percent of students receive nothing lower than Cs, according to Communities in Schools officials.

After coming to a learning center for three years, Janetta Alston is now on the Honor Roll.

“I would (like to) say ‘thank you,’ because they help me improve in certain subjects that I need to,” Janetta said.

Communities in Schools staff also meets regularly with the students’ teachers to track progress. They also have learning centers in Capitol Park, Chavis Heights, Mayview, and Kentwood.