"I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10
These words convey an image of God holding, comforting and supporting His people when they find themselves in difficult circumstances. But you also get the feeling that He wants them to stand firm, trust Him and move out in His strength to do the job He has called them to do. These are the ideas behind what we try to do here at the Phil-Mont Learning Center. We are here to give support to students who need it and to help other students push beyond their regular classroom routine. In both cases, the goal is the same: to have every child work well with the gifts God has given him/her, and grow in becoming the young person He intends him/her to be. Naturally this looks a bit different according to the grade level and need of the student involved.
In the elementary school, we have two means of reaching our goal. The first is by offering tutoring sessions in math and language arts. Children come to the Learning Center twice a week during their regularly scheduled math or reading time. Once there, they are taught the same lesson that is being taught in their classroom but in a small group setting. As a result, much more time is available to work on those skills that need strengthening but that may go unnoticed in the larger classroom.
The second type of class we offer is for enrichment purposes. For students who enjoy math, and feel ready for a chance to stretch their abilities, Phil-Mont participates in the Math Olympiad program. This is a national program offered for Fourth and Fifth grade students. It definitely involves math skills, but really emphasizes creative problem-solving, logical reasoning, and thinking skills. Interspersed with instruction and practice, are five contests in which the children compete over the year. Their results are calculated, via internet, against thousands of children nationwide. It is an exciting program and has proven beneficial to many students. Students who want to participate in Math Olympiad must have both teacher and parent approval.
Another elementary enrichment offering at Phil-Mont is the Accelerated Learner Program. This is a class for children who are doing well in their regular class work and would benefit from an additional challenge. The students participate once a week and work on various topics. There is a different emphasis each quarter, either math, science, social studies or language arts. Some of the topics that have been covered include Archaeology, Norse Mythology, Mysteries, Playground Physics, King Arthur, Crime Scene Investigation, Mazes, and Statistics. In order to be eligible, students must be recommended by their classroom teacher. In addition, they must be easily able to make up work missed in class during the time they attend the program as well as understand concepts covered in class without doing all of the work the rest of their classmates have done in their absence.
In the Middle School Learning Center, the emphasis shifts a bit. The enrichment programs that are offered in Middle School (Reading Olympics, Math Counts, etc.) are all taught by the Middle School faculty. They are not part of the Learning Center.
At the beginning of the year, all sixth grade students are taken through a short unit entitled "Middle School Survival." This is a 3 - 5 day course presented during study hall and is taught by Learning Center staff. It is designed to acquaint students with ideas about time management, organization, and study skills that are necessary for them to master as they make the transition from elementary to middle school.
For a number of students, keeping track of the requirements of so many different classes can be a difficult task. The increasing difficulty and amount of work in Middle School can also pose a challenge for some. In light of this, Learning Center sessions are offered to students in all grades who require a bit more support with the work load in Middle School. Depending on the make-up of the group, or the needs of the individual, these sessions vary greatly. A session will usually be composed of a number of the following elements: reviewing concepts from class, tutoring, test preparation, work on major projects, and organization/time management skills, and especially the use of their assignment book. Every attempt is made to try to tailor the sessions to the needs of the student.
By the time a student reaches the high school level, the Learning Center usually becomes much more individualized. Matching the support to the learning style and needs of the student is a top priority. The Learning Center teacher maintains close contact with teachers in order to monitor a student's progress and identify any areas that are of concern. While students may receive some tutoring in the Learning Center, they should first go to their classroom teacher if they are having difficulty with upper level coursework. There continues to be an emphasis on time management and organizational skills, including use of an assignment book. Preparing for upcoming tests and quizzes, tracking a student as they work on a major project, and limited help with daily homework are a few of the services that are available. Occasionally a study session for a specific test may be offered if the schedule allows.
Overseeing and administering tests in the Learning Center is an additional strategy that is used at the high school level. For students who may need extra time or a less distracting environment in order to perform optimally on tests, arrangements can be made for their tests to be taken in the Learning Center rather than in the regular classroom. This includes mid-term and final examinations, as well as regular tests throughout the year.
For international students, general academic orientation and reinforcement is offered on a limited basis, including ESL particularly for those with language barrier needs.
To take advantage of the services that are offered in the Learning Center, a child must be officially enrolled as a Learning Center student. This is a process that is handled through the Guidance Department. Often, a parent is contacted based on recommendations that have been made by their child's teachers. However, parents who are aware of the program may also request that their child be enrolled. It should be noted that, on the Middle and High school levels, students who get good grades, are on the honor roll or in honors courses are usually not accepted into the Learning Center.
If you have any questions about the Learning Center at Phil-Mont, please contact Marilyn Furcola in the Guidance Department or Debbie Shope in the Learning Center.