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Mateo Watson
Mateo Watson

Castroville Library Homework Center ((BETTER))



Sally Childs and Anita Hernandez established the Homework Center, and the Community Computer Project in 1985 for the Andy Ausonio Library. CSUMB students and local high school students volunteer to assist library staff and Patrons. In 1999, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) recognized Sally for her outstanding service towards young adults. The Homework Center is sponsored by the Foundation of the Monterey County Free Libraries, to provide a space for all students to work on their homework. Students have access to printers, computer resources, including internet access, electronic databases, and word processing apps are available. For information call (831) 883-7542. U.S. Citizenship Program Homework Center.




castroville library homework center


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The challenge comes in maintaining a paid or volunteer workforce large enough to provide sufficient assistance to the multitude of students who use the library every day after school. Most libraries cannot afford to hire the number of part-time employees needed to provide necessary homework help. Nor are they prepared to recruit and train a battery of after-school volunteers. Still, many libraries have succeeded in accomplishing this seemingly impossible task by maximizing the combined efforts of paid and volunteer staff.


Most homework centers would not exist without volunteer help. Paid employees are usually responsible for recruiting, training, and scheduling homework helpers, but it is often the volunteers themselves who provide the actual after-school assistance. At the Hennepin County (Minn.) Library, each homework-help site has a team of three essential program personnel: a librarian, a lead tutor, and volunteers. More than 300 volunteers staff the program throughout the library.


Consistency is key in a program where young students expect to see familiar faces every day. Therefore, some libraries prefer to hire their homework helpers, rather than rely on the unpredictability of volunteers. Boston Public Library pays its teen homework helpers $11 an hour and requires them to sign a contract stipulating that they will work the entire school year. Likewise, the Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library staffs its Family Learning Centers with paid learning guides who work for the library year-round and help with the summer reading program.


Homework assistants are generally recruited in the late summer and early fall, before the school year begins. Libraries use various methods of recruitment, including word of mouth, in-person conversations with community members, and printed fliers. A colorful brochure distributed by Monterey County (Calif.) Free Libraries beckons prospective homework center volunteers by promising a rewarding experience where one can learn about library resources, explore science kits with students, and play educational games, in addition to helping children complete their homework.


Library staff also welcome the assistance of teenaged homework helpers. Despite occasional problems with teens forming cliques or flirting with each other, high schoolers perform as well as, if not better than, their older counterparts. At the La Habra branch of Orange County (Calif.) Public Libraries, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are recruited to help younger kids with homework. Once they gain enough experience, they can become tutor captains responsible for checking in and matching students with an appropriate helper. In a 2003 study of teen-assisted homework programs, Virginia Walter and I found that student helpers gain a sense of pride from serving their community, especially in low-income neighborhoods. We also learned that teen helpers are more socially competent and better prepared for the job market as a result of their homework center experience.


Students may develop meaningful relationships with homework helpers. In the library, young people have an opportunity to see adults in a nonclassroom, nonparental role. Most students appreciate the assistance they receive and understand that these adults are dedicating their time to help. Teenage homework helpers often bring hope and encouragement to neighborhoods where few positive role models exist. They prove that succeeding in school is possible. As one program coordinator explained, sometimes tutors become mentors.


CINDY MEDIAVILLA managed a homework center for Orange (Calif.) Public Library in the early 1990s and has been studying after-school homework programs ever since. Mediavilla has an MLS and a doctorate in library science from UCLA and was a public librarian for 18 years.


I also remember those days, in April 2016, when I was studying the DACA requirements along with Sally Childs, the homework center coordinator at the Castroville Library. We were searching for a feasible path for those unique dreamers who also deserved that legal status. 350c69d7ab


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