by Alyssa Gilman
McGinn Elementary School welcomed the community’s teenagers in the spring of the 2012-2013 school year. Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and Union County Vocational Technical Schools (UCVTS) students, all Scotch Plains and Fanwood residents and McGinn alumni, met at the elementary school weekly. They participated in a program entitled “Homework Club.”
Magnet High School junior Orian Sneor created this program last year. “I was thinking about some way I could give back to the community, but I didn’t exactly know what to do. So I decided to do what I’m good at, which is just showing people how to do things,” said Sneor. At first, he attended After-Care, a YMCA-run program at McGinn, once a week to help students with their homework. After working with After-Care students for a few months, Sneor decided that he wanted to create a homework club open to all McGinn students.
Sneor worked with McGinn principal Dr. Sasha Slocum to start “Homework Club,” a program that students in first through fourth grade could sign up for to receive help from the teenagers of their community. Sneor asked some of his McGinn classmates from both UCVTS and SPFHS to participate in Homework Club and help the elementary school students work on their assignments.
Each week, the old and the young met in the library after school from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The McGinn students were able to ask the high schoolers for assistance with any homework they were given. “Normally there were enough of us that the ratio of elementary school students to high school students was two to one,” said junior Liz Casserly, a Homework Club contributor. A high concentration of “helpers” allowed each elementary school student to receive ample attention for any help they might have needed.
Homework Club became a success, benefitting the McGinn students greatly. “It seemed like the students enjoyed having us there. Most of them went home with their homework finished and also had a little time left over to talk with their friends,” said junior Auva Dariani, another club participant.
Sneor noticed improvement in the students’ abilities. He recalls multiple occasions of helping kids with a certain subject matter, and then seeing them work through the same thing independently the next week.. McGinn’s teachers seemed to be supportive of their students attending Homework Club. “The principal told me that all the teachers were very enthusiastic about the program and thought it was helpful,” said Sneor.
The McGinn students and staff weren’t the only ones who liked Homework Club. The participating high school students enjoyed working with the younger members of their community, commending the children’s hard work and personalities. “The kids were so hilarious. One girl would always sing to us and the funniest things came out of all of their mouths,” said Casserly.
Homework Club will be re-initiated this spring. The program will maintain a similar once-per-week schedule at McGinn Elementary School.