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Project Blast targets struggling students

 

CMSD grants and special services coordinator Jannette Adams

CMSD grants and special services coordinator Jannette Adams

 

 

Sarah Fowler

 

Two new after-school tutoring programs will focus on helping under-performing elementary students. Project Boost and Project Blast began last week within the Columbus Municipal School District and are being offered at four of the district's elementary schools. 

 

Project Boost is being funded with an $84,000 grant while Project Blast is being funded by Title 1 funds. 

 

"Functionally, those programs are exactly the same," said Anthony Brown, federal programs director for the district. "We're going to take those students and give the same experience." 

 

Project Blast will be offered at Cook Elementary while Project Boost will be offered at Franklin, Fairview and Stokes-Beard Elementary. 

 

Brown said the schools were chosen based on last year's performance review of under-performing schools within the district. Teachers at each school then selected students for the program based on academic progress. 

 

"They were ranked from the greatest need to the least need," he said. "You serve as many as you can with greatest need." 

 

Project Boost and Project Blast combine a hands-on learning experience with cutting- edge technology, said Jannette Adams, grants and special services coordinator. 

 

"What we're looking at is a blended learning approach and combining the use of technology with hands-on instruction," Adams said. 

 

The district hopes to have a minimum of 10 percent of each school's population participate in Project Boost. 

 

Franklin has a student population of 424 students, Stokes- Beard has 533 and Fairview has 320 students. The grant provided funding for three teachers at a rate of $25 an hour and five assistants or "intervention specialists" at $15 per hour. All must be certified teachers. 

 

The grant for Project Boost also provided money for 90 new laptops, which will be divided between Fairview, Franklin and Stokes-Beard. 

 

Brown said students participating in Project Blast will not receive new laptops but will use what is already available within the district. He also noted that Title 1 funds provided $1,000 for teacher pay. 

 

The program will last 15 days in two and a half hour segments this semester and will wrap up in October after 21 days. The program takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

 

"We wanted to provide after school support to the three lowest performing elementary schools with targeted intervention and targeted attention to weakness areas," Adams said. "If people don't get the fundamentals, it is hard to grow."

 

Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah

 

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