SALEMBURG — Timmy Butler smiled when he captured the attention of children by holding up number cards as students wrote them on paper.
He’s busy during the week, but for Butler and other volunteers from Beaver Dam Baptist Church, it’s important to tutor at Salemburg Elementary School. They work with third, fourth, and fifth graders selected by SES teachers. One moment it may be reading and math lessons, and at other times, volunteers provide motivation and support. The mentoring program began in October.
Through volunteer work, Louise Butler said one of her goals to support teachers at the school.
“Children bring a lot of personal issues with them and they have to not only teach them, but cope with that,” Louise said.
Louise feels that the program is helping to fill a void of teachers not having aides, which are only for kindergarten and first-grade teachers.
“With lack of funds for the schools and such, my vision is to support to teachers,” Louise said.
While assisting a student with reading, Louise mentioned how she helped with fully understanding the purpose of a story, which may help with homework and answering questions on tests. Louise expresses the importance of studying.
“Not only to do well here, but to go home and prepare for the next day,” Louise said. “Every time I’ve talked to them, I always tell them, that’s how you shine in class the next day. You have to study.”
Timmy spends a portion of his week away from leading Butler & Sons Funeral Home, Inc. He believes it’s important for the students to receive extra support from leaders beyond the classroom.
“I think a different perspective or hearing something from another person is always good,” Timmy said.
Timmy had a breakthrough when he helped a student understand division.
“They were just amazed with division from a standpoint of doing it in a simple way,” Timmy said. “Sometimes, I think it’s a different voice that helps motivate them a lot.”
He believes it’s important for students to have experiences beyond school.
“You can’t just put all of it in the school’s hands,” Butler said. “They have so many hours a day, but you can’t put the total responsibility in the hands of the school to get them the total education.”
Under the leadership of Pastor Jeremy Jones, the church is going in a new direction with more community involvement, instead of traditional service and hosting events for special occasions such as Christmas and Easter.
“We need to be more visible in the community and have some hands-on experience with people,” Louise said.
The help at Salemburg is a step towards that goal. Louise said Jones takes a lot of interest in mentoring and education.
“We have retired people here that can spare some extra time and it allows us to be known in the community, not by reputation, but by our work.”
Louise is the aftercare coordinator for Butler & Sons Funeral Home, Inc. Her sister, Maxine Butler-Wall serves as vice president and is a retired educator with experience in Wake County schools. Butler-Wall taught Family and Consumer Science. By May, Butler-Wall hopes to see some progress at Salemburg.
“Having taught, sometimes you don’t see it and makes take years before one comes back and that light bulb moment occurs,” Butler-Wall. “Knowing that progression is slow, just to see a little improvement by the end of the year would be great.”
Principal Gerald Johnson appreciates the mentor’s contributions to Salemburg Elementary.
“I’m sure it’s going to make a difference in kids’ lives,” Johnson said.
Assistant Principal Olivia Hall feels the same way about the church volunteers. The others volunteers are Sandra Butler Richardson, Frances Butler and Dean Brown.
“It’s nice to have the outside community come in and work with our students,” Hall said. “It’s nice to have another voice, someone else saying we’re here for you, we support you and we we want you to do well.
“When you have the community, parents and the school working together, that makes a huge impact on students, especially the ones that are struggling,” Hall said.
Overall, it’s about success.
“We just try to plant that seed to let them know they can be successful, no matter where they come from,” Timmy said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.