Kitaab Club working to leave no child behind
For the past 7 years, the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) has offered Kitaab Club, an after-school math and English literacy program with the goal of providing essential learning support for children in the areas of math, reading, writing and listening comprehension. The program is offered to students ranging from 1st to 5th grade that are English language learners and/or below grade level. With overcrowded English Language Learner classes in the NYC public schools, and diminishing resources to help these students, AAANY works to leverage its cultural competency and connection to the community to fill the gap. More than just a homework-help session, Kitaab Club provides interactive activities, educational games, and a focus on outside reading practice to enhance the students’ English capabilities. In charge of the program is Evelyn Garcia, the Community Outreach Coordinator, who joined AAANY through the New York City Civic Corps, one of the Citywide Initiatives to build the capacity of nonprofits through maximizing NYC’s volunteers. Before enrolling the students, Evelyn conducted pre-screenings to test their levels and scheduled meetings with the parents to ensure their child’s involvement. Since our partnership with Primary School 170 in 2011, we have been able to use the school facility and help many of the same students who attend that school.
On January 24th, the program’s “new and improved” version started a new semester, with fresh and enthusiastic volunteers hailing from California, to Syria, and even from the United Kingdom. With more volunteer instructors we have been able to both guarantee more organization and foster a closer one-on-one relationship between the tutors and the kids; one that will feasibly grow into more of a mentor to student relationship. At the end of each day, the tutors are required to fill out an assessment, which keeps the children’s progress on record and functions as a marker from which to move forward with instruction. “Kitaab Club has improved a great deal since last semester and this has been the result of a few important changes we have made,” said Garcia “I definitely think that screening the students and having their parents come into AAANY to verify all their contact information has helped a lot. We want to work together with parents to improve their child’s academic performance so we try to be in constant communication with them. We have also actively recruited more tutors, which has resulted in a more diverse group of tutors, both in age and background. We finally have a tutor to student ratio that works!” she added, with enthusiasm. AAANY is proud to offer such a dynamic program for the community and new volunteers are always welcome to inquire after tutoring positions. For more information on the program, please contact egarcia@ArabAmericanNY.org. Chelsea Estevez