Tutoring program proves educational success for two middle school students

A partnership between a middle school and a baptist church has led to two students seeing remarkable success.

Starting with only a first and third grade education, Girard Middle School principal Darius McKay credits the tutoring program for the miraculous story of Austin and Oscar Ramirez.

"We do this theme, we're every day missionaries and so part of that is looking right in our own backyard," said Pastor Paul Thompson of Calvary Baptist Church.

And right in their backyard, well, just a few blocks away anyway, sits Girard Middle School.

"We made that our adopted school," said Thompson. "And when we started looking at how we might plug in, we saw the biggest need was the academic side of things."

Calvary Baptist aids in school fundraisers, playground cleanups, or whatever the school needs, Thompson said they know they can now call on the church.

But said the most rewarding experience to come from the partnership is the impact it is making on a personal level, particularly with Austin and Oscar Ramirez.

"I can tell my reading is getting a lot better, and my math," said Austin.

The brothers began school in 2016 at Girard Middle School after not being enrolled for years, specifically the first and third grade.

"I didn't know anything when I did come to school," said Oscar. "Basic things like spelling, reading, I didn't know any of that."

When they were re-enrolled in public school, they were both placed in the sixth grade.

This school year alone, Oscar has been double promoted to eighth grade and is now attending gifted classes.

"They help me with robotics," said Oscar. "They teach me how to code and how to pretty much do software and program and that's what I want to do in the future."

Both Ramirez brothers credit the teachers and staff at Girard Middle School for their exceptional progress, along with the one-on-one tutoring sessions they attend with a Calvary Baptist Church volunteer each week.

"I can't explain it really," described Austin. "They sat down with me and explained everything, what it does, how it does it and stuff."

"They just make it a lot easier for me," adds Oscar. "They know what I need to learn and how I learn."

Thompson adds that when they decided to begin the program, they knew that the face-to-face interaction is where they would make the biggest difference.

"The person that's been mentoring those two guys loves them," said Thompson. "And she wants to see them succeed and they're thrilled about it."

Austin and Oscar are two of about eight to ten students tutored at Girard Middle School by the church volunteers, but Thompson said there is an after school program available to elementary and middle school students where they encompass multiple aspects of learning such as dance, art, and tutoring as well.

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