The SOLs can be daunting for parents and students alike, and for many students, the cards are stacked against them because they don’t have the basic skills. But there is one man and a group of volunteers who are trying to give students the opportunities to do well.
Many Saturday mornings, Jesse Calloway and a group of about 50 volunteers gather at the New Direction Evangelistic Church to tutor children, and prepare them for the SOLs.
“Got your stuff with you today, are you ready to roll?” Calloway asks one student as the child enters the church on this particular Saturday morning.
For the 50 students, the subjects they receive tutoring in range from the elementary school level to tough high school math problems.
“My daughter's grades have greatly improved and the service is free,” says Pamela Stewart, whose daughter Sydney is in high school. Stewart says Sydney’s grades have drastically improved since Calloway and all the volunteers started the program in 2012.
“I really appreciate the fact that Brother Calloway and his wife have taken the time to provide this service,” says Stewart.
Calloway’s wife also assists with the program, and his daughter, an English major in college is one of the many volunteers.
Calloway is a retired engineer; he worked for Altria for 23 years. Calloway is now in the process of getting his PhD.
“When you do something that you are passionate about, no is not something that's in the vocabulary,” says Calloway.
Calloway says he firmly believe when people succeed, they should give back to their communities.
“African-American students are disproportionately affected by the SOLs,” he says. “Unfortunately the pass rate is a lot less, and so it’s an opportunity to equalize that and make them do better on the SOL tests,” says Calloway.
The tutoring sessions have wrapped up for this school year, but they resume in September. Calloway is still looking for more volunteers, and the door is always open to more students. If you would like to become a volunteer, or have a child who needs help getting ready for the SOLs, call the New Direction Evangelistic Church at 804-276-6332.Do you know someone making a positive difference in Central Virginia or their community? ABC 8News Anchor Ava-joye Burnett wants to hear from you: post on her Facebook wall or tweet her your ideas.
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