The start of a new school year in Springfield will provide additional support to the Williams Elementary families.
Initially, the new O’Reilly Unit of the Springfield Boys & Girls Club will be part of the building and will offer childcare before and after the school day.
The all-round services offered in the unit are aimed at improving participation, providing a safe haven for children, and providing scientific support.
One of the overarching goals is to close gaps in reading and arithmetic in order to give the children a better chance of success in school, which in turn enables them to choose a university and career.
Williams director Amanda Desa said the on-site program is a “game changer” for many families who work night shifts or multiple shifts to make ends meet.
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“Having a safe place where they can get extra help with homework, extra reading, or extra math in a fun environment … is exponentially bigger than anything they’ve had before,” she said. “They’re not just babysitters. They provide educational support.”
At Williams, at least 90 percent of all students are entitled to free or discounted meals, a national measure of poverty.
The results of the state-required exams in 2019, the last available year, show that 19.6 percent of Williams third graders scored at or above grade in reading and only 17.4 percent in math.
The clubs raised more than $ 1.3 million in less than a year to bring the new unit to market. The goal was $ 1.2 million.
The 4,000-square-foot O’Reilly unit is part of the newly remodeled Williams, which opens this month and is funded by a $ 168 million bond approved by voters in 2019.
Earlier this year, Tim O’Reilly, chief executive officer of O’Reilly Hospitality Management, said the O’Reilly-Wooten family had unanimously supported the project and donated at least $ 500,000.
“We are all excited to be part of this incredible project and to support the great work of the Boys & Girls Clubs in supporting, nurturing and shaping the children and families in our community who need it most,” he told im February .
Katie Cartwright, director of the O’Reilly Unit, said all clubs have a program called Power Hour to help them with homework.
She said the O’Reilly unit will have stepped up academic support and is starting a program that focuses on workforce readiness.
“There are several goals, such as ending the cycle of poverty and providing our children with experiences such as internships and hopefully in the future internships and education for parents,” she said.
“With our children we want to improve their education and impart life skills that they can actually apply in the real world.”
By working with elementary school students, the O’Reilly unit aims to help students build skills that will help more of them catch up academically and graduate high school with a viable plan for success in life.
SHINE grants will help
Springfield students who qualify for free or discounted school meals can apply for the SHINE Scholarship to attend pre- and post-school programs, including the Williams Elementary program.
Partners providing full service include the Ozarks Regional YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, Dream Center, and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board’s SPARC program.
Each partner hires academic support staff trained by the district to help students catch up in reading and math.
Brandy Harris, CEO of Springfield’s Boys & Girls Club, said the nonprofit offered services in five locations last year and will expand to eight this month, including the new O’Reilly unit.
“We just have a responsibility to do this and do it well,” said Harris. “And I think it will be very helpful to spice up the academic part.”
For more information, please visit this website: www.sps.org/shine.
The expanded partnerships and grants are made possible by $ 3.4 million from the federal coronavirus relief fund.
Claudette Riley is the News Leader’s education reporter. Email news tips to [email protected].