Club Tutors: New name, more kids, teacher inspired

Boys & Girls Club of Brookings photo: Club Tutors is helping Boys & Girls Club members stay on track with reading and math levels.

BROOKINGS – A longstanding program at the Boys & Girls Club has been Club Tutors, known as Club 5 until a recent name change and expansion. 

The purpose of the program is to keep kids on track with reading and math levels to avoid falling behind, along with inspiring a love for learning and celebration of success. The program is largely teacher and parent referred and takes place every day after school. Club staff has regular communication with teachers and parents, and the smaller group of youth become a family that works hard to improve and celebrate together. There are spelling tests on the wall, pizza parties and a lower staff-to-student ratio in this program. 

The Club received numerous calls from Brookings elementary teachers about more kids needing this program, specifically fourth- and fifth-graders. The program has previously run in only first through third grades.

Club Tutors is possible with the funding from United Way and generous supporters in the community. Funding helps purchase math workbooks, pencils, dry erase markers, dry erasers, books and most importantly, the staff that invest in youth and their learning in cooperation with parents and school teachers. 

When teachers believe a student will benefit from the extra help after school, an application is filled out and given to the Club. After the recommendation, Club staff remain in touch with teachers to talk about the member’s performance. 

“Literally all but one application says kids are easily distracted,”Club Tutor and Lead Youth Development Specialist Keesha Barnes said. This program helps youth to stay focused on homework after school to ensure they are going back to school the next day successful. 

Club Tutors is no extra cost to members. During the school week from 4-5 p.m., members meet with for Club Tutors in the Reading Headquarters or the Exploratorium. Club Tutors kick off with a brain break each day led by staff and volunteers. In the past, volunteers have enjoyed their time so much that they become staff. 

Some incentives youth receive on a daily basis are Club Cash, which is only available to Club Tutor members. Club Cash can be used at the Club Tutors store to “buy prizes.” Staff are continually working to help youth see Club Tutors as fun and not a punishment to aide in motivating children to learn. 

“We had a girl in the past who was not seeing enough parent help at home, and because of the Club she was able to receive some one-on-one time,” First-Third Program Director Kristy Weaver said. “The member always had someone to read and practice spelling with her. Scores in school skyrocketed because of the extra help in this program. There are not enough hours in the day between school, the Club and whatever else kids may be involved in. Club Tutors is a great way to have that time and get the help kids need.”

The Club is grateful for the work of its volunteers. The Early Experience class and a professor from SDSU, Bill Alsaker, are some of this year’s amazing volunteers. Alsaker is a celebrity around the Club and is commonly known as “Mr. Bill,” who is in his fourth year of volunteering. 

Since Alsaker has a background in secondary mathematics, he has also volunteered with the summer learning, loss prevention program called Power Up, has been a STEM mentor, Club Tutors and has been a judge for Youth of the Year. “They are great kids who get so excited to see you and even to learn,” Alsaker said, which is why he keeps coming back. “It is clear that the Club serves to expose kids to some great role models, and I hope I can help with that mission by volunteering some of my time.”  

Anyone who is considering volunteering at the Club can go to www.greatfuturessd.org, click on “Ways to give” and click on the “Get involved” button on the right. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Kyrsten Williams at [email protected] or call 692-3333. Volunteer applications are online and require a background check. 

If community members are not able to volunteer but are able to donate any of the supplies listed above to help advance the members’ academic success, donations can dropped off at the front desk of the Club.

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