ROSWELL, Ga. – Each Thursday after school, 20 of Roswell’s Mimosa Elementary third-, fourth- and fifth-graders take the school bus home. When they arrive in their neighborhood, they board a vehicle from Northbrook United Methodist Church and go there for an after school program.
The program, called Kids Teach It Forward, is designed to help underperforming native Spanish-speaking students become better prepared for Georgia’s CRCT testing.
Riverwood High School junior and Milton resident Nikunj Jinan is behind the operation. He knew there was this need at Mimosa Elementary, a Title I school, so he began by talking with Principal Lynn Johnson.
“As the principal, I’m just so grateful for what [Nikunj] has done,” Johnson said. “Our parents were very, very excited. Sometimes, it’s hard for our parents to help their kids with homework. [The program] has far exceeded my expectations.”
Jinan next went looking for a facility for the program that had a vehicle to transport students to and from the site each week. Rev. Rodrigo Cruz, pastor of Hispanic ministries at Northbrook United Methodist, stepped up.
Next, Jinan recruited National Honor Society and Beta Club members from Roswell, Milton and Riverwood high schools to help.
“We make sure there’s one-on-one tutoring,” explained Jinan.
The tutors can count their hours toward their community service requirements, but Jinan says that many of the tutors find helping out to be more satisfying and rewarding that they imagined.
Matt Cory, a junior at Roswell High School and a member of the National Honor Society, has tutored each week since football season ended. He’s required to have 20 community service hours; he’s now up to 34.
“Toward the end, I came because I liked it,” said Cory. “It felt good helping the kids out.”
On Thursday, April 18, Jinan put together an awards program for participating students and their families. Some tutors attended as well as Fulton County Schools officials.
The program was conducted in both Spanish and English, and each student was presented with a medal and certificate.
Third-grader Daniel Enriquez said the program has helped him work on his math, science, English and reading.
His sister, Angela Ruvalcaba, a ninth-grader at Roswell High School, said she has noticed a big change in her little brother.
“I think he has exceeded in reading especially,” she said. “It has improved his confidence as well.”
Jinan will continue the program with Northbrook United Methodist and Mimosa Elementary next year while he is a senior.
“He’s an amazing example of a Fulton County student taking the initiative for a great cause,” said Vic Shandor, area superintendent of the Northwest Learning Community for Fulton County Schools. “It’s inspirational.”