Feeding the education appetite

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 06:35 PM

Study, Master, Achieve, Retain and Transcend is what SMART in Southern Vance High School’s SMART lunch hour stands for. A resourceful use of time is the clearest definition.

During SMART lunch approximately 790 students receive tutoring, meet with clubs and eat lunch during the same 60 minutes.

What seems like a recipe for chaos has proven to be a truly smart idea, helping to bump the school’s pass rate above 80 percent for the first time.

“Yeah, it’s chaotic and busy, but it’s constructive busy,” said Stephanie Ayscue, Southern’s first-year principal. “A lot of people didn’t think this could be done.”

Joint efforts between students and staff have made the process possible.

With assigned tutoring and club sessions scheduled in various classrooms each day, students are given the power to decide where they need to be.

“Giving kids different options, and giving them some empowerment has helped tremendously,” Ayscue said.

With only an estimated 10 percent of students at Southern Vance having access to after-school transportation, SMART lunch provides a valuable hour for those struggling to catch up on work.

“A lot of students, because of athletics or home situations, don’t have a ride after school and can’t come after school,” said science teacher Jennifer Howard as members of the Science Club filed into her classroom. “So, with SMART lunch you’ve got five hours a week you can get extra help, and tutoring, and it’s really helped improve a lot of their grades.”

SMART lunch has also helped boost the number of students participating in the more than 20 different clubs being offered at Southern Vance.

Business teacher Elaine Webb, who heads up the Junior Optimist Club, Robotics Club and Sewing Club, has seen an increased amount of participation from students during the lunch hour.

“They get to come more often,” Webb said. “Also, kids that could not come can come now, and that, I think is the big thing.”

Seniors Annie Bullock, Laurie Ross and Desiree Latten are all members of the Distributive Education Club of America. During SMART lunch on Wednesday they gathered to conduct a meeting.

“We do our meetings, we organize events, it’s very helpful,” said Annie Bullock, president of the club.

“We have more members now,” Ross said.

Bullock, a senior, plans to attend Elon University in the fall where she will study business.

On Valentine’s Day the DECA club organized a fundraiser, selling chocolates and flowers to their peers.

“I love business and really enjoy doing fundraisers,” Latten said. “I’m doing business administration at Central University.”

Athletic teams at Southern Vance also benefit from SMART lunch, providing coaches time to meet with their players.

“I know Monday, Wednesday, Friday, the baseball team all has mandatory tutorial,” Ayscue said. “So, they get their lunch and spend the whole time in there.

“It kind of gives them that structure that some of these kids need.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.