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Tutoring program to start next Monday

LANETT — Approximately 10 years ago, a young girl who was struggling in algebra class stood up in her church, told the congregation of her troubles, and said that she needed help if she was ever going to get ahead in life. Luckily for her two retirees with good educations, Lionel and Trudye Johnson, heard her plea and told her they’d help her.

That was the start of a tutoring class at Goodsell Methodist Church.

“We started out with one student,” said Trudye. “More young students got involved and pretty soon we were tutoring around 40 students and outgrew the church.”

With some help from the city, the class relocated to the L.B. Sykes Community Center on Cherry Drive. More adult tutors volunteered to help. At one point, there was more than 100 youth being tutored in math and language and 13 tutors helping them.

“We had to cut back some when the senior center moved here. but we still have from 50 to 60 youth in this summer program,” Trudye adds.

Registration began Wednesday afternoon for this year’s program. Tutoring will take place from June 11-21. Sessions are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. EDT each day five days a week. Classes take place in five classrooms in the former Lanier High building. There’s also some instruction in a classroom next to the gym.

“We serve breakfast and lunch in the classroom next to the gym,” said Mrs. Johnson. “We thank the Chambers County Board of Education for helping us with that. It helps us tremendously.”

Breakfast is followed by life skills instruction. Then there are sessions on math and language skills, followed by recreation and lunch.

The tutoring program partners with the Lanett Recreation Department on the sporting events. Some kids swim, some play basketball, there’s a chalk art activity and some of them are into chess. It’s for children in grades two through six.

“Our main goal is to keep their skills sharp during the summer months,” Mrs. Johnson said. “Reading is the fundamental skill in life. If you can’t read, you can’t do anything.”

Assisting the Johnsons with tutoring this summer are Trudy’s sister, Dr. Rose Wood, along with some local retired teachers and some who are still active. Among them are Chambers County Commission Chairman Charlie Williams and wife Reiko, Troup High English teacher Leilani Rudd, retired social worker Jeanette Perry, and Harris County pre-school teacher Lakita Smith. Glenda Huguley and Naketti Booker work with the food service.

“Why do we do this?” Trudye asked. “It’s our way of giving back to the community. We had some great teachers when we went to Lanier High. They helped us tremendously, and we want to help today’s young people. Some of them are needy and need encouragement. We love what we do. We feel like we get more out of it than we put in.”

Mrs. Johnson loves to point to success stories. That girl who asked for tutoring help at Goodsell ten years ago? She’s now a graduate of Alabama A&M. Her sister is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Alabama.

Students who came through the tutoring class have gone on to post-secondary schools such as Southern Union, Columbus State University, Alabama State, Auburn, AUM, and Huntingdon College.