‘Bigs’ fill in for Learning Partners in Coupeville
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
February 5, 2010 · Updated 2:09 PM
A new program in the Coupeville School District replaces the venerable Learning Partners, which paired students with student and adult volunteer tutors.
Offered by the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County, the new program takes a different tack than Learning Directions, which was more directly a mentoring program.
It started with the new school year, and so far, so good, judging by the kids’ response.
“It’s just flourishing since October,” said Stephanie Greene, match coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We’ve made 28 matches.”
The middle school students typically meet with their big brother or sister one day a week after school. Pairs typically start with homework and then dive into other things.
“This is more activities-based,” said Zack Piercy, a high school senior who spent two years participating in the Learning Partners program. He continued to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, which is an activity encouraged through National Honor Society.
During a recent visit to the after school program, Piercy spent the afternoon with sixth-grader Mitchell Losey who was working on a music project on one of the computers in the library.
“I like coming here, hanging out and having fun,” Losey said.
Other pairs that Wednesday afternoon were busy chatting, surfing the Web or enjoying board games or studying.
The pairs generally meet in the high school library. They will have a special, Valentine’s Day event at Harbor Tower Village in Oak Harbor Wednesday, Feb. 10. The evening will be spent making Valentines for the residents, families and friends along with pizza and games.
The Learning Partners program, which was eliminated last year due to budget reductions, had a number of adult residents who volunteered their time to tutor the students, who came from the elementary, middle and high school. When Big Brothers Big Sisters replaced Learning Partners, the first pairings were between middle school and high school students.
Greene said Big Brothers Big Sisters will start operating at the elementary school once some adult volunteers are identified. She said adults will probably have to be paired with an elementary school student because of the differing class hours at the schools.
For more information about helping through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County, visit www.bbbsislandcounty.org, or call 279-0644.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.