For many parents, the hours surrounding dinner during the school year are filled with homework assistance. Twice each month, a new program at Mount Marion Elementary School invites parents and their children to bring their homework to the school in the evening, where teachers assist. Then the teachers, parents and students break bread together.
The program was developed last fall by Mount Marion special education teacher Cynthia Kendall. After hearing about a similar program in another state on a newscast, she thought it would work well in Saugerties. It turns out she was correct. An average of 15 to 35 people attend each event. “Families have responded very positively and generally tell other families that it’s been a great experience,” she said. School Board Trustee Florence Hyatt, who heard a presentation on the program at January’s board meeting, called it “heartwarming.”
The evenings proceed like this: families arrive at around 5:30 p.m. They work on homework together with their children, supported by teachers, until about 6:30 p.m. At that point, the families all sit down to eat a meal together. Items for the meal, or funding to purchase the items, are donated by local businesses such as Dallas Hot Wieners and Price Chopper. Baked goods are provided by the staff volunteers. The tables are arranged in a square so participants face one another, creating what Principal Carole Kelder calls a “Mount Marion family.”
Organizers say it’s not a tutoring session. Rather than a teacher simply helping a student answer questions, the entire family gets assistance in how to help their child. This is perhaps more necessary these days, with parents often confused by the new ways familiar concepts are taught under the Common Core curriculum.
The next meeting of the supper support club will be on Thursday, Feb. 26.