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Tutoring program expands

On Tuesday, Gov. Bob Riley announced the expansion of Alabama’s statewide online tutoring program.

“It is a really fun program,” said Demopolis Public Library director Morgan Grimes. “It has been expanded to be available for pre-schoolers up to adults. In the past, it was only for fourth- through 12th-graders.”

The program, called “Homework Alabama,” provides tutoring services free of charge to Alabama citizens. Funding for the program comes through money appropriated by the Alabama legislature and federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through its Library Services and Technology Act program.

Homework Alabama began as a pilot program by the Harrison Regional Library System in Shelby County. The program launched in July 2005 and has seen more than 200,000 tutoring sessions.

“Homework Alabama is a free resource that helps answer and solve any educational questions that students and adults have,” said Grimes. “All you need is a library card from any public library. September is Library Card Sign-Up Month; it’s the perfect time to visit the library and get a card so you can take advantage of this great tutoring Web site.”

Student surveys of the program show that 97 percent of its users said they are glad that it is offered by the state, 92 percent said the tutoring improved their confidence with schoolwork, and 90 percent noted an improvement in their grades.

“It is safe, it’s secure, it’s practical and it works,” Riley said. “This is one of the greatest teaching tools I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of.”

Students can access the program online by visiting www.homeworkalabama.org. The program is available from 3 to 10 p.m. every Sunday through Thursday. Subjects include English, math, science and social studies.

Tutors are highly educated and screened carefully for students’ safety. Sessions last about 20 minutes, and students cannot ask for a specific tutor.

“It’s a really great program,” Grimes said. “Students can go online, type in their questions and chat with the tutor and get help. It’s a really good resource, and there are a lot of people who don’t know that it’s available.”

U.S. Jones Elementary School students Jamar Collier, 11, and Jarvis Rowser, 9, learned how to use the Web site recently.

“We like using the computer to do our homework,” Collier said.

“I can’t wait to get a library card so I can use Homework Alabama,” said Rowser.

For more information, contact the Demopolis Public Library at (334) 287-2346.