by Lisa Tome
So far, Lee Clark has had little trouble helping children with their math homework.
But, they haven't gotten to algebra yet.
Clark, 64, a retired motorcycle parts dealer, accepted a new job with Cecil Parks and Recreation's After the Bell program. Clark is now charged with the task of helping elementary school students with homework if they need it. He said he studied business math and may struggle with algebra and beyond.
"I like it (the job). I dealt with all different types of personalities in my old job. And I'm a grandparent too," said Clark. "So far this (homework) hasn't reached beyond my comprehension."
Homework help is just one of the components of After the Bell, which is a new program this year. According to David Mencer, Cecil Parks and Recreation staffer, currently 36 children from Rising Sun, Calvert, and Bay View elementary schools are enrolled in After the Bell. The students are bussed to Cecil Arena after school is dismissed for the day.
From that time, until 5:30 p.m., they receive homework help, relax in the Chill Zone, play sports, and complete art projects.
Parents pay $15 a week per child for the program for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
"It's going really well. We've had good partnership with the schools. And for parents, this seems to fill a need. We've had compliments from parents that children want to stay (when parents arrive to pick them up.)," said Mencer.
Each day, students rotate into the different programs. "The Chill Zone" provides cell phone chargers, games and toys. "Kindergartners have cell phones now," said Mencer.
"We've been doing this for three weeks and everyone wants to do sports. They've been in school all day and want to burn up energy. We have kick ball, Wiffle ball, soccer, and dodge ball. So many of the kids want down time. When I was this age, I didn't want down time."
Mencer said the program is going well.
"They are so well behaved. They are enjoying their time here and have gotten acclimated. We'd love to get bigger numbers. Our initial goal was 50 kids from each school," said Mencer.
Cres Nova, like Clark, is a staffer at After the Bell. Nova attends Cecil College and is studying secondary education. "I like interacting with children. I enjoy this program. This is what I want to do but with slightly older kids," said Nova.
First grader Adalia Gehron attends After the Bell. "I like it here. I like to do art. Yesterday, I made my dad a card," said Gehron.