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Students find tutoring help at Folsom Library

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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F.L.A.S.H. Friends of Folsom Library After School Hours (tutoring)

When: Tutoring is first-come-first-served from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays while school is in session.  Tutoring is for students grades 2-8, and is free, no registration required

Where: Folsom Pulblic Library, 411 Stafford St., Folsom

Info: Library.folsom.ca.us

To see the huge smiles on kids’ faces, you know something great is going on.  Is it the hottest new video game in town, or maybe a new episode of a favorite television show?  No.  It’s F.L.A.S.H., which stands for Friends of Folsom Library After School Hours program; a program that pairs volunteers with students who need homework help after school every Tuesday at Folsom Public Library.

In spite of battling complex spelling words and the commutative property, kids in grades two to eight giggle and nudge good naturedly as they work through homework problems – some in small groups, some one-on-one, with their volunteer tutors.

Funded by Friends of the Folsom Library, which uses donations and fundraisers to purchase school supplies and snacks, the free program has been around for five years, and serves upwards of 20 kids on any given Tuesday.

It’s obvious that the kids are enjoying themselves, but the volunteers are enjoying themselves as much or more.

Mary Snorteland has been involved with the program for two years.

“It’s so much fun – I really enjoy the children, and I enjoy watching them improve,” she said.

Snorteland volunteered with various literacy groups in the Bay Area, and plans to always be involved with programs that help people read and learn.

“Reading skills are so important – all the subjects are,” she said.

Snorteland typically tutors three siblings; girls who each vie for her attention, with spelling, vocabulary, and fourth-grade math.

“I’ve been helping some of the same students for two years.  One of my students was struggling to read two years ago – now she has improved so much, she is reading chapter books.  It’s just amazing,” Snorteland said.  “And they draw pictures for me each week when they are finished with their homework.”

Kids may enjoy catching up with a friend or two, but it’s obvious they appreciate the one-on-one attention.

“I like to come here because they help me with my work,” a fifth-grade girl said.  “When I get confused, they explain it to me – when my dad gets home from work, it’s really late, so he can’t help me with my homework.” 

A fourth-grade boy likes F.L.A.S.H. for a different reason.

“It helps me a lot, being here and doing my homework.  Since I have ADHD, I have trouble doing my homework at home,” he said.

Coordinated by library staff members Debbie Centi and Kathy Nemes, the library has offered some variation of homework help for over a decade.

“Some parents have limited English skills and are unable to help their children with homework,” Centi said.  “But I’ve also had parents confide that they bring their children because they like the neutrality of the library.  They aren’t battling with their child at home to complete assignments.”

Volunteer, Barbara Manwell explained the need for free tutoring in the community.

“Kids are in classrooms with 30 to 35 kids.  F.L.A.S.H. gives them the opportunity to get individual attention since today’s classrooms have such high numbers,” she said.

Volunteers are still needed, and no experience or special skill is necessary.

Manwell summed the volunteer experience up nicely.

“I get to interact with joyful people in a beautiful setting.  This is really a gift I give to myself”.

Contact the library for details about free tutoring or volunteering.