A summer math tutoring program will be tested at Oakland Mills Middle School in July as part of Howard County's "Achieve 24/7" educational initiative to help narrow academic achievement gaps.
"We want to make sure young people have the opportunity to make more of themselves," County Executive Allan Kittleman said at a Tuesday night dinner to announce the program, the third in the initiative.
Last summer, "Weekend Warrior," a program that distributes free food packs, started and "Ready Rosie," an early childhood education readiness effort, was launched in September.
The idea for the math program was pitched to the county by Oakland Mills staff, said Kim Eisenreich, administrator for the Local Children's Board, a group that provides services for families and children that is working on the initiative.
An Oakland Mills staff analysis of students identified 80 out of 476 who, with extra assistance, would be on track to reach algebra proficiency benchmarks, Principal Megan Chrobak said.
The summer math pilot for about 80 students, which will be free and includes breakfast and lunch, provides a way to "creatively meet the needs of students," Chrobak said.
About four in 10 Oakland Mills students receive free- or reduced-price lunches, about twice the county's average, and an indicator of an area's family income levels.
Kittleman said he hoped the math program, expected to cost $28,725, could be expanded to other schools in later years.
Oakland Mills middle and high school math teachers will work with students in the morning, before they participate in enrichment activities provided by Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center.
Activities could include theater, visual and culinary arts or martial arts, which will feature elements that tie back to the math lessons, LTYC Executive Director Dana Carr said.
Jennifer Edwards, whose daughter Jasmine Caldwell was a student speaker at the kickoff dinner, said the program is "awesome." Without it, she said she'd likely try to work with Jasmine during the summer, but that the program provides an opportunity for more help.
Seventh-grader Dedric Griffin, 12, said he's excited to participate to help him "get ahead."
"This program is encouraging us to work hard and maintain good grades," Griffin said in remarks at the dinner.
The county is also ready to expand its Weekend Warrior snack pack outreach, according to Kori Jones, who helped organize the program through the children's board.
Last year the program included two sites at Stevens Forest Elementary School and Harper's Choice Middle School. This year Jones said the program will be at four sites, including Harper's Choice, Oakland Mills Middle School, Laurel Woods Elementary School and a fourth non-school site not yet selected.
The program provides free "snack packs" to children who might not get enough food on Saturdays and Sundays during schools' summer break.