As a young girl in Baltimore, Jacqueline Fleming would go with her father, the Rev. Ollie Edward Fleming, to help other children with schoolwork and get involved in the community.
Those experiences inspired the 59-year-old retired Baltimore schoolteacher to open the Rev. Dr. O. E. Fleming Tutorial Centers in July.
"All my life I've worked with young children," she said. "And after 32 years of teaching, I wanted to have another way to continue my work and also remember my father."
Fleming has opened two free centers -- one at St. John's Baptist Church on Jefferson Street in East Baltimore, the other at 1030 N. Fulton Ave. in West Baltimore.
The St. John's site operates from noon to 1 p.m. every Saturday and helps children, ages 6 to 13, in reading, spelling and math. The other is open one Saturday a month, offering Bible lessons and a book club. Fleming provides the supplies.
"While I was teaching, I always enjoyed my time as a reading resources instructor, and the children seem to enjoy the time they spend here," Fleming said.
As she did with her father, Fleming has made helping the community a family affair. Her sister, niece and niece's husband volunteer as tutors at the centers.
Candace Smith, the niece, tutors in math and English.
She said it is important to expose children to as much learning as possible.
"To help children the most, it is important to know their likes and dislikes, and use them as best as possible," said Smith, an elementary school teacher in Montgomery County. "For example, we use rhyming words and live objects to help the children improve their spelling and vocabulary."
LaToya Dixon, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Canton Middle School and lifelong member of St. John's Church, said working with Fleming and the other tutors has helped her improve academically.
"Here, I've learned to put words together better in sentences and improve my spelling," she said. "They make learning fun here."
Her grandmother Mary Hersey agrees.
"Centers like this are really needed in the community," she said. "It's helped my granddaughter, and I know it can help others."
Latrell Barnes, a 6-year-old first-grader at Tench Tilghman Elementary School, is another regular at St. John's.
He said he enjoys going because he receives more attention there than at school.
"The groups here are smaller," Latrell said. "It allows me to get extra help and ask more questions."
Fleming's tutors help children with math, English, history and government.
Fleming -- a Republican -- said she thinks it is important that children know who represents the community in government.
"I want to make sure people know who the mayor is and who represents them in Congress," she said. "I've also taught them about prominent African-American historical figures like Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King."
Fleming said she hopes to expand the efforts to include older children, and noted that her plans include starting a sports-themed book club at the Fulton Avenue center.
"A lot of these kids are really into sports, and I think by offering sports books, I can get them to read more."
Brenda Deloach is assistant director of the Fulton center. A teacher's assistant at Arlington Elementary in West Baltimore, she said children have expressed interest in the sports-theme club.
"A lot of kids want to improve their reading and writing, but just need to find a book they like to read," Deloach said. "I'm not a big sports fan, but if it will get the kids to read, I will definitely learn."
Pub Date: 10/24/99