FirstWorks students, Kiara Campbell, left, 2nd grade, is tutored by Jimesha Banks, 8th grade
At FirstWorks, “each one, teach one” is the fun way everyone learns.
The youth enrolled in this academic, faith-based after school program are becoming “teachers” for the younger children.
This year the older students, grades 8 through 12, who excel in their studies, have begun to help teach and mentor the younger children, grades 1 through 5, in the subjects of reading, math and composition.
Peeking into the FirstWorks classrooms at Highland Heights United Methodist Church on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, one can see the fellowship and camaraderie during these mentoring sessions between the older and younger students.
Memphis City School teachers are on hand to supervise each pair of students during these sessions.
This new mentoring program, developed by Dedric Hightower, FirstWorks high school teacher, has many benefits to both age groups.
As they study together, the sessions encourage the older students to interact with the younger ones – setting a good example of consistent study habits and goal setting. The younger children, who look up to and emulate the older children automatically, see first hand how hard work and determination are character traits they must develop in order to stay in school and succeed in life. And it gives the younger students a new confidence that they, too, can do well in school.
The FirstWorks After School Program enrolls “at risk” children and youth from downtown ZIP codes.
FirstWorks students, Ja'Keriah Watkins, left, 2nd grade, is tutored by Moesha Banks, 8th grade
Two evenings a week they meet for dinner, served by volunteers called “Kitchen Angels,” followed by tutoring by Memphis City School teachers and volunteers from all parts of Shelby County. The children are also visited by guest motivational speakers and given career advice.
Two Saturdays a month the program offers academic, sports, and fun outings for the children.