Students at Civic Nebraska’s Campbell Elementary Community Learning Center are getting an academic boost this school year. It’s coming through a group of North Star High School students committed to giving their younger counterparts an extra push toward higher grades, and the confidence that comes with doing well in school.
The high schoolers call themselves Aston. They recently formed a nonprofit organization that provides free student-to-student academic support. Because the effort grew out of North Star – just a few blocks away from Campbell – it made perfect sense to partner with Civic Nebraska’s Campbell CLC, said Dalton Hellwege, a North Star senior and Aston’s founder.
The high schoolers approached Emily Koopmann, Civic Nebraska’s School Community Coordinator at Campbell, who jumped at the chance this summer to form a partnership.
“Emily was very enthusiastic, and she wanted to get on board,” Hellwege said. “She’s the one who got us going.”
The partnership turned out to be a perfect fit. Koopmann is very appreciative of the help that Aston provides the CLC and the drive that the tutors possess.
“They found something they thought was important for the community and they organized themselves. It’s really important for CLC administrators and community members to support young people who have these visions,” Koopmann said.
In addition to creating successful kids, the CLC works to build strong neighborhoods, something of which North Star is a big part, Koopmann said.
“As a full-service community school, there is nothing better than bringing in community partners,” she said, noting that the CLC needed group tutoring more than traditional one-on-one tutoring that Aston might typically provide. Koopmann said the high schoolers adapted quickly; now tutors work with groups up to 30 elementary students during CLC time.
“They saw the need that we have at Campbell and they said, ‘OK, we can still provide for this need,’ ” Koopmann said.
Already, Aston has expanded to 15 middle and elementary schools around the city, said Layla Omari, a North Star senior who serves as the organization’s president and Campbell’s site representative.
“It was a good idea to go through the CLCs because it would not only benefit and help take off some of the stress that the CLCs already have, but also help us expand into more schools and get us to reach more students,” Omari said.
Both Aston and Civic Nebraska’s Community Learning Centers work to create and grow civic strength within the community. And both organizations believe that students are an essential part of that growth.
“Part of the CLC’s mission is to get more involvement in the community and to build more civic engagement,” Omari said. “We want to show these students that we’re students, too, and we’re helping them become better students.”
Koopmann said that she has noticed an attitude shift within the CLC since partnering with Aston. Students no longer dread going to the CLC’s Homework Club, she said, and are instead eager to get their work done.
In fact, some students now come with their homework done and even ask for more homework sheets and practice opportunities. Aston works with teachers to collect extra practice sheets for Homework Club.
Omari said: “Before, they were kind of just like, “Eh, I’m gonna leave this ‘til after school.’ Now, a lot of the kids that used to come in without their homework done are coming with it done.”