The following story is the third in a series about how the East Greenbush Central School District is utilizing COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government to support students affected by the pandemic. The story below will focus on Columbia High School’s Learning Resource Center, which provides extra help for students in core subjects.
The Columbia High School Learning Resource Center (LRC) is a place where students can receive extra help during the school day. It is located in the school library with dedicated spaces for English and Math adjacent to the main library. In normal times, it has been staffed a few periods a day by classroom teachers so students can work on certain skills, get caught up on schoolwork or ask questions.
But in the midst of a pandemic, coming off a year of hybrid learning and a school closure the prior spring, there’s been a higher need than ever before.
School administrators recognized that need this past summer and used COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government to hire two full time teaching assistants to staff the LRC. David Kelly is the English TA and Cherylyn Grisafe is the Math TA. They are available to students the entire day, and at times, they are accompanied by classroom teachers.
“Having the Learning Resource Centers available all day has really had a positive impact on the students and supporting them as we return to full time in-person learning,” said Principal Michael Harkin.
The Math LRC averages more than 17 students per day. Some students stop by the LRC on their own accord and others are scheduled to visit by a teacher or school counselor if they are struggling academically.
“Students come into the LRC with various needs and require different levels of support,” said Ms. Grisafe. “Some students simply use the LRC as a quiet space to work on their assignments and ask questions as needed in order to deepen their understanding of current topics being learned. Others may have significant learning gaps from previous years or extended absences and have been coming to the LRC in order to close those gaps.”
The English LRC is averaging approximately 20 students per day. They receive assistance with homework, essays and test readings.
“I think that the LRC definitely helps students because it is much quieter and working with students one-on-one can absolutely help their confidence in the material,” said Mr. Kelly. “I like to offer a friendly and approachable environment for students to come and obtain the help that they need.”
Both Mr. Kelly and Ms. Grisafe are already seeing improvement in some students who utilize the LRC.
“My favorite part of any day is when students stop by in between classes to tell me that they got a higher grade on an exam than their last,” said Ms. Grisafe.
Expanding the LRC from a few periods a day to the full school day is a simple but effective way of helping students. They can visit the LRC any time they have a free period or study hall and it avoids the need of obtaining outside tutors or evening commitments.
“Expanding the LRC in both Mathematics and English throughout the academic day at Columbia High School increases the overall student accessibility to those additional supports,” said Assistant Superintendent James McHugh. “We are hopeful that our students take advantage of that additional support throughout this school year.”
The East Greenbush Central School District was allocated $3,945,709 from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and $3,092,281 from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to support students and families affected by the pandemic. District administrators created plans for these funds which include investment in academic services, after school programs, mental health services, facility enhancements and technology purchases. To learn more, visit Funding the Future (COVID Relief Funds).