Hoops for Homework celebrates 10 years

WARREN — A weekly after-school tutoring program that also aims to help students develop character and social skills is marking 10 years.

”We want them to make good choices in their lives. Having adult mentors is part of that,” Troy Woods, founder and director of Hoops for Homework said.

Students in kindergarten to eighth grade from Howland and Warren schools meet 4:30 p.m. each Tuesday September through May at North-Mar Church for fun and academics. Woods, who has been working in the community for 20 years, said he formed the group because he saw a need.

Guest speakers have included Warren Mayor Doug Franklin talking about the importance of character, and athletes who shared how making poor life decisions cost them a chance to get into the NBA.

”They shared what poor choices and not being focused changed their lives,” Woods said.

One part of the program is recognizing youth who have done something good in the past week, whether it’s a good report card or an award. Children receive candy or pencils for their accomplishments.

“At dinnertime, because so many of our families are so busy they don’t have a structured dinner time, the goal is to emulate what dinnertime for families should be like,” Woods said. “This is a time to talk about what happened during the day. We want to have a dinner where we sit together and share. The goal is to have children model at their home with their own families what we do.”

Dominic McClean, 9, a third-grader, said he has been coming for two years and likes the tutoring. He said his school grades have improved.

Jameriah Hull, 14, a seventh-grader, said the tutoring has helped her with her grades. “I like how we eat here like a family so we can practice and do the same things at home,” she said.

Hull said she likes talking about current events at the table and sharing stories with other people such as school events and activities.

“When speakers come here I want to hear what they have to say,” Hull said.

Marie Wallie serves as a tutor.

“I was not expecting it to be like this,” Wallie said. “The students are very open, which I like. It has been a good connection working with them since that is what they need.”

She said she has noticed students’ attitudes have changed since starting last fall.

”They want to learn and appreciate the time you give helping them,” Wallie said.

North-Mar Church has been part of the program since the beginning, although it first met at Trumbull Homes in Warren. It’s been at the church the last six years.