Poplar Bluff School District, Boys and Girls Club partnership th - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Poplar Bluff School District, Boys and Girls Club partnership thriving

The Poplar Bluff School District and local Boys and Girls Club decided to team up. The Poplar Bluff School District and local Boys and Girls Club decided to team up.

Could other Heartland schools take a lesson from what's happening in Poplar Bluff? In the face of budget cuts and cramped spaces, the district and Boys and Girls Club took a potentially devastating situation, and instead gave hundreds of families a reason to smile.

It's all about teamwork. The Poplar Bluff School District and local Boys and Girls Club decided to take their partnership even further.

The Club faced a loss in funding and no room to grow last year, all while their waiting list got longer.

That's when the district stepped up, allowing numbers to double and B's to turn into A's. They not only opened up more campus sites to the club to host the award winning Power Hour tutoring program, but offered their teachers too.

"Last year at this time, we were averaging 235-250 kids a day and then we had a waiting list that kept getting bigger and bigger," said Boys and Girls Club director, Chris Rushin. "We knew we had to serve more kids. This partnership allows us to do that. We went to the school and said we want to serve more students. This has doubled our attendance. We want to be at 505 kids by the end of the year. Now we serve 453 kid a day."

The kids say they are learning more than ever, and they are proud.

"It teaches me because I used to not get my homework done and now I just get it done here," said 4th grader, Demi Wisdom. "My mom is happy and my teachers are happy."

"It's all about the kids," said teacher Christine Innis. "The tutoring reinforces what was taught in the classroom. It's successful because of this collaboration. The teachers already know what the kids are working on and what help they need."

"With this program in place we are fulfilling our mission statement to help out all young people especially the ones who need us the most," said Rushin.

The kids get help with every school subject, but progress stems beyond the classroom.

While 72% of elementary students saw grade improvements, 95% met attendance requirements, and discipline referrals dropped.

"It's a good thing," said Innis.

At the middle school level percentages were even higher. Meals are also provided.

"We provided 60,000 meals last year and this year we hope to serve 72,000," said Rushin. "It's about giving but it also makes good business sense as well because the parents of the community are able to work and not worry about their kids being fed."

The kids say they enjoy the lessons in learning, and also friendship as part of the club.

"I used to have B's and now it's all A's," said Rossi Hicks of O'Neal Elementary.

"I used to struggle with math and now I get 100's," said Avery Casey of O'Neal.

"My parents are really really proud," said Jake Montgomery, third grader. "It's awesome!"

The program has extended to four sites, most recently opening at Lake Road Elementary. The tutoring takes place at Eugene Field, the Kindergarten Center and Oak Grove. O'Neal students go over to Oak Grove to participate.

"We just want to keep growing and serve every child," said Rushin.

For more information visit the Boys and Girls Club website.

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