Byron Bass captured the attention of young children as he slowly paced around a classroom at Union Intermediate School, holding up two sides of a green apple.
“I still have one whole apple,” Bass said. “That is equivalent to two halves.”
He continued to show more examples of fractions, while splitting up the fruit. Along with the numerical lesson, he also added a little extra encouragement for children to solve problems on the board.
“People who are successful go the extra mile to meet challenges,” Bass said.
The lesson is just one of many students will receive at Union Intermediate School for a new after-school tutoring program — “Spartan Commitment to Community.” About 20 students from fourth through sixth grades attended the first day on Monday, a number expected to grow in the future. Eight juniors and seniors from Union High School will serve as their tutors and mentors.
“It’s really about relationship building,” Bass said.
A longtime retired educator with close to 30 years of experience, Bass has taught in the Union District since 1991. The reason he started the program was to give students an extra nudge with their education.
“This is home,” Bass said as he watched the volunteers work with students. “I care about the Union students. I want to see them become as successful as any other student, anywhere.”
Bass added that a lot of students in the last few years would come through the schools not having a foundation, ambitions, goals or aspirations. That is something he wanted to change. After retiring in June for a life ministry, he made a decision to continue in the education field and give back.
“I talked to some folks and they thought it would be a wonderful idea,” Bass said.
The idea came about while researching similar programs all over America. A program that really caught his attention was from Harlem RBI in New York, which provides tutoring after school with a mix of baseball. Since it was founded in 1991, the program has served more that 1,700 youths and provides sports, learning and enrichment activities. Bass wants to do something similar, but with a different touch. For the Union program, time slots will be used for tutoring, motivation, goal setting and athletics.
“We’re trying to develop the whole child,” Bass said.
Selected juniors and seniors will not only provide tutoring, but they will be coming up with activities.
“They’re just about as important as I am in making sure that we reach these students,” Bass said about the students’ involvement.
Summerlyn Cannady, a junior, is one of several older students helping to make that possible. For the first day, she assisted a group of students with their homework and is looking forward to helping students with math, reading or whatever other guidance they may require.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Cannady said. “I wish this program was around when I was in intermediate school. I like knowing that I can help these kids and make a difference in their lives.”
Union Intermediate Principal Jim Workman appreciates the contributions of the volunteers and the program. He hopes it helps with a career in education if the students have a desire to go in that direction.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Workman said. “The high school students have found the time to come out and help students in their community.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.