The William K. Sanford Town Library in Colonie is extending Homework Helpers, which initially began as a pilot program in October where honor students from local high schools tutored younger students and helped them with their homework.
“Parents requested the program continue. said Younger kids seemed more open to help from teens,” librarian Ann-Marie Helldorfer said. “When parents try to help, kids tend to think their parents don’t know what they are talking about, but they look up to high school students.”
Helldorfer, who got the program started at the library, said she knew of similar programs at other libraries and wanted to give it a shot in Colonie.
“One of the reasons we decided to do it was the New York Regents is in charge of museums, and libraries, and they are looking for better cooperation between libraries and schools,” said Helldorfer.
The New York State Board of Regents initiated a new plan to get libraries more engaged with the public. The plan, “Creating the Future: a 2020 Vision Plan for Library Service in New York State,” advises libraries on ways to become even more involved in the communities they are in so they can get increased funding or maintain funding during tough economic times.
When the library ran a pilot program in October, five to six students each week came in seeking help from four volunteers. Most of the volunteers were from Shaker High School, with an occasional volunteer from Colonie Central High School.
Organizing the program took about a month. The library recruited volunteers by reaching out to the Shaker Student Government and the Colonie Honor Society. To get the word out to the schools about the program, the library contacted school principals, who then alerted the teachers and sent out emails to parents.
The library also put out information on their Facebook page, and news spread via word-of-mouth.