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Giving Back: Homework help open for parish students

LAPLACE — Shontrece Lathers and other public school teachers work after hours Monday through Thursday helping students improve their grades at a free tutoring program — Homework Hut.

Shontrece Lathers helps third grader Rashadd Williams get through a problem in his workbook Monday afternoon. (Raquel Derganz Baker/L’Observateur)

Shontrece Lathers helps third grader Rashadd Williams get through a problem in his workbook Monday afternoon. (Raquel Derganz Baker/L’Observateur)

Lathers, a third grade teacher at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, works at the St. John the Baptist Parish Central Library Homework Hut location in LaPlace.

This is Lathers’ second year working with the program.

“We get one-on-one time with the students,” she said. “If they don’t understand, we get to sit and explain how something is done, and it’s really an asset to the kids to help them further their education.”

Lathers said there are teachers from different grade levels to help students in grades second through eighth.

The tutoring program offers help in English, math, science, social studies, spelling and reading. Tutoring is available from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Monday through Thursday at different locations around St. John Parish.

In LaPlace, there is the Central Library, Rising Star Baptist Church and the St. John Parish Housing Office. In Reserve, there is the Homer Joseph Community Center and New Rescue Mission Baptist Church.

In Garyville, students can go to the Garyville library. In Mt. Airy, the location is St. Mark Baptist Church. In Edgard, the location is the Edgard library.

The program is for students in second through eighth grades and lasts through April.

Some of the students Lathers helps are actually some of her students from Lake Pontchartrain Elementary. She said she sees a difference in their grades after receiving help.

“Before, they weren’t able to fully commit to their homework because they didn’t properly understand it, and their parents weren’t able to help,” Lathers said. “Now that they come here for those two hours after school, they are getting that additional assistance, and it shows. The students are excited to come. They ask what days I’m going to be there, and their homework gets done. Sometimes, they would come to school and it wasn’t completed. Now that I’m here with them, I know it’s being done everyday.”

The driving force behind the program is Eliza Eugene, president and founder of

Blessed to be a Blessing.

“Our teachers are all certified teachers from St. John Parish working in the St. John the Baptist Parish School System,” Eugene said.

“Whatever help they need, we will work on it with them and try to strengthen them in that particular area. We try to have at least two teachers at each site.”

Eugene said parents can bring their child to a site closest to them, sign them up for help and pick them up later in the afternoon, adding some sites are near school bus drop offs for easy access.

Administrative services coordinator for St. John the Baptist Parish Library Kearston Poche’ got a taste of the program and the impact it has on children when she was supervising at the Edgard library.

“The students would bring in their report cards, and we would actually get to see that the program was helping the students,” she said. “It felt great to see their report cards. It showed that they were learning and doing better in that short period of time. The students were very receptive to the help from the teachers. They loved it. They actually paid attention and did their work.”

Poche’ said parents and students should take advantage of the free tutoring program because she has seen it work.

“It’s great to know that the kids have somewhere to go to get tutoring and mentorship and boost their grades,” she said. “It’s always good to have programs that help students prepare for the future.”