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Brain Food

By Makenzie Holland (makenzie.holland@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Jun. 12 | Modified: Jun. 12

Providing the tools to success for High Country youth has become more than just an idea to area resident Amy Forrester.

Two months ago, Forrester and associate Jenny McCourry started the program Brain Food Boone, which aims to provide tutoring services to children over the summer for a reasonable price, as well as a Summer Enrichment Series to help kids enhance and retain skills that could potentially be lost over the long break.

“It was my idea originally to create a series of workshops of small group enrichment for kids, mostly focused initially towards preparing third graders for EOGs (end of grade tests) this year,” Forrester said. “All the ideas have kind of stemmed from that.”

Currently, Forrester has nine tutors lined up to be available for students this summer. The program is flexible, and tutors work with the parents to create a tutoring schedule for their child.

“It’s all around what works for the parents and the tutors,” Forrester said. “The idea with that was just to set up a way for parents to know that these are people they can trust. You know they’re all reputable teachers in the High Country.”

The tutors all meet specific qualifications for the job, such as being a current or recently prior Watauga County or High Country public school system teacher, further along than Block 2 of the Appalachian State University education program and having recommendations from at least two professors, as well as background checks, according to the Brain Food website. Forrester is part of the group that will be available for tutoring this summer.

Area resident Burt Aycock signed his son, Eliot, up for a workshop Forrester provided this year and currently has Forrester working with Eliot in private tutoring sessions. Following the EOG prep workshop, Aycock said his son exuded more confidence than before.

“I wish I’d of gotten ahold of her sooner, but we ran out of time,” Aycock said. “I wanted to give my child some focused one on one time before the EOG to better equip him for the EOG.”

Aycock said since Eliot has been working with Forrester, his verbal fluency as he reads has greatly improved, and he has seen greater excitement in his son’s attitude toward learning and school.

“I think that Amy and Jenny, they’re very focused, they love what they do, they thrive on educating kids and I think that rubs off on the kids,” Aycock said. “The kids get that vibe from them, and it lifts them up to where they’re confident and comfortable.”

Forrester said the main goal of the program is to provide an affordable option to enrich the kids of the High Country and to get them motivated and confident. The program is not seeking to make money from the tutoring sessions or enrichment workshops.

The price for one hour of private tutoring has currently been set at $25.

“It’s affordable,” Forrester said. “I mean, $25 dollars is what we’ve agreed to. It sounds like a lot of money for an hour, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into preparing for the individual student. It’s really a pretty good deal.”

Differing from the private tutoring sessions available, the Summer Enrichment Series will be focusing on science and social studies and are more group-oriented. Only eight spaces are available in each session and each two-hour session costs $30. Two sessions will be conducted each day for different grade levels. Sessions begin June 16 and end July 23.

“I think we live in a place where kids are getting an amazing public education,” Forrester said. “We have phenomenal classroom teachers that are doing everything they’re supposed to do and way beyond. What we want to do, as a group, is support the classroom teachers, send them kids who are feeling confident, because kids who walk in feeling confident absorb and retain so much more.”

Maria Norris signed her daughter, Marlie, up for the Summer Enrichment Series after her experience with the EOG prep workshops conducted by Forrester.

“I, as a parent, learned a lot about the terminology used in the common core curriculum, as well as on the reading EOG for third grade,” Norris said. “So, not only were these skills reinforced with my child during her workshop, I was informed about what it all means so I could help her more at home.”

For more information on hiring a private tutor or signing up for the Summer Enrichment Series, visit http://brainfoodboone.wix.com.

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