Devra Charney / Silhouette Staff

Mac students have been working off campus and volunteering in a new frontier: North Hamilton.

The Hamilton branch of Frontier College, which promotes reading and literacy in high-need areas of the city, is undergoing plans to start a new homework club program beginning in October 2013.

Community Coordinator Shannon Stevens said that it aims to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton in order to reach out to more target areas. Stevens emphasizes the importance of the University to the success of the literacy programs, as the majority of volunteers are McMaster students.

“We’re exploring one program in the community at their Sanford location, and we’re exploring a possible school partnership, but we haven’t decided which school. So it will be similar to our other homework club structures where it’s a registered program, kids come, and we help them with their homework after school.”

Volunteer tutors from Mac are needed from September until late spring, as the Teen Homework Club continues to operate in the Central Public Library in May and June in order to help high school students prepare for final examinations.

Frontier College runs nine programs in Hamilton during the school year, largely aimed at new Canadians and students for whom English is a second language.

Fourth-year Arts and Science student Chetna Mistry is an organizational team leader for the Dr. J. E. Davey Elementary After School Homework Club. She sees the program as necessary for a demographic that would otherwise face difficulties in keeping up with schooling.

“The Dr. Davey program is unique because it serves students in mostly underprivileged communities. We get a lot of refugee immigrant students who are at really low reading levels, and that requires our volunteers to be extra aware of their situations and willing to really help out and be really patient with them.”

Gerry Smith, Principal of Dr. Davey, agrees that the program plays an important role for students and parents as well as for the school system. It fills a need in Hamilton’s downtown district for students whose parents are unable to help them with schoolwork.

“In our school, we have a lot of people who, at home, school wasn’t exactly their thing, or they’re new to Canada and aren’t able to support their kids, so at least for twice a week we have an avenue where kids can go and get the support with the homework they need. And that’s invaluable.”

He added that it gives students who lack the motivation to do their homework the chance to study in a constructive environment where help is readily available. The volunteers are able to provide the one-to-one attention that many of his students need in order to focus on their classwork.

“A lot of these kids don’t do a lot of structure, or you can’t count on them to do homework at home, so it’s an opportunity for them to go somewhere and also just get an extra push with reference to curricular objectives that they wouldn’t if they just went home.”

 

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