Lorena Puente and Princesa Reyes spent a recent afternoon learning how to solve fractions and studying shapes for geometry.
The girls are fourth-graders in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford School District, and they are taking part in the Mission Central Village Library after-school program, where they work with volunteers who tutor them in subjects they are having difficulties with like reading and math.
“They help us with our homework, and we learn new things,” Lorena said. “We are learning about measurements and other stuff.”
Princesa said her tutor also discusses science and space.
“Math is my favorite subject. I love coming here,” she said.
The Village Library, in a shopping center at 742 E. Pipeline Road, is part of Mission Central, a nonprofit organization helping needy families in Hurst, Euless and Bedford with food, clothing and other services.
Lola Nelson-Spay, director of student enrichment, said the program is designed for children who need help with school subjects and whose parents can’t assist them at home.
“The common denominator here is that all of our students are good and really want to learn. All of their parents are immigrants and just don’t speak English all that well. They just really struggle with assisting their kids with homework,” she said.
To qualify for the program, parents must meet income guidelines, Nelson-Spay said.
There are 43 children in first through eighth grades who come to the Villlage Library twice a week for tutoring, but there is also a waiting list of over 30 students, she said.
The library has about 1,960 books, and children are constantly checking them out, she said.
The after-school program also relies on volunteer tutors who range from high school students to retired teachers from the H-E-B schools and retired engineers from Bell Helicopter.
But more volunteers are needed to work with the students, she said.
The children spend time on their homework, but they also learn about traditions and holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras, and they learn about concepts and ideas such as the “random acts of kindness” campaign, Nelsonj-Spay said.
Nelson-Spay, a retired teacher and counselor from the H-E-B school district, said she started working at the Mission Central Village Library about two years ago.
“It is a blessing to be here. I knew that I wanted to keep working with children,” she said.
Nelson-Spay said that some of the children are from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and that their parents don’t realize that their children don’t have to pay to go to school in the United States.
“The kids get out of their parents’ cars and run to us. They pay for their education in Africa. The parents ask if they owe us anything,” she said.
Like Nelson-Spay, Dixie Leach, a retired third-grade teacher from the H-E-B school district, enjoys working with the children. Leach said she wanted something to do and decided to volunteer.
“I still miss kids and planning the lessons. I love seeing them learn. It’s like a little family.”