Helping kids learn: Neighborhood Outreach Connection, USCB students team up to tutor

March 15, 2011 

Sherley Maldonado, 8, plays a bowling game during the Neighborhood Outreach Connection's March Fair at The Oaks on Saturday. The nonprofit NOC, in partnership with the Beaufort County School District, hosts programs such as tutoring to improve the academic performance of children in low-income neighborhoods. Saturday's event featuring games, food and prizes, was held to encourage families to participate in both school- and NOC-sponsored activities.

JAY KARR

The Neighborhood Outreach Connection is thrilled about its latest partnering of young children and college students.

The students are from University of South Carolina Beaufort, and they've been helping kids at the nonprofit organization's Bluffton Park facility on Simmonsville Road for several weeks.

The opportunity came about earlier this year when Neighborhood Outreach Connection signed an agreement with the Beaufort County School District allowing the organization to reach out to the education community -- such as tapping into USCB's resources.

"This agreement has opened doors," said Teresa Ullman, Neighborhood Outreach Connection field director in the greater Bluffton area. "We sent fliers to the schools. The children and the parents are aware of the events we have going on, which has helped us with attendance so we can help more children."

Ullman said she also visited USCB, which led to six students signing up to work at Neighborhood Outreach Connection. Two students are involved in prenatal-care education and four others are helping children in after-school programs. The outreach group still is looking for more volunteers -- either college or non-college students.

"The kids and the college students love it," Ullman said about the early reviews of the program. "And the (college) students are getting field experience for what they want to do with their lives, which is to teach."

Danyelle Bozeman, a USCB freshman who is studying early childhood development, works with children at Bluffton House three days a week. She is getting paid and also puts in volunteer hours.

"I don't do it for the money," said Bozeman, while helping a 5-year-old boy write in his book journal. "I get to apply what I'm doing in classes here to help them (Neighborhood Outreach Connection students) with different approaches in their schoolwork."

Ullman said in the first few weeks, 55 young students signed up for the program. She said her goal is to increase enrollment to 100.

Neighborhood Outreach Connection has several locations throughout Beaufort County. Its primary emphasis is on education, health care and work-force development in distressed neighborhoods.

Several months ago, the school district's Beaufort County Adult Education and the Neighborhood Outreach Connection partnered to form an adult learning program at the nearby Simmons Cay Adult Center on Simmonsville Road.

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