There are, indeed, heroes who walk among us. These heroes include such names as Sarah, Kaila, Faris, Gabriel and Ocean, to name just a few. These are the names of students who understand the value of education and avail themselves of the assistance and guidance provided by the after school program right here in Montgomery County known as Scotland Storm. These students strive to achieve a meaningful education because they recognize the importance of education to a meaningful and productive life. They, indeed, are heroes among us.
Heroes also include such names as Fred, Renee, Robyn, Jabari and Matthew, a high school junior himself, among others, who have made the commitment to assist these students with their homework, tutor them as needed and share their life lessons and experiences so that these students are better prepared to move on with their own lives as productive members of society. It includes the name Carly for coordinating the high school volunteers who participate as tutors. These individuals, too, are heroes.
Our heroes also include the names Chris and Lauren Meade who recognized the need for such an afterschool program and invested their time, their energy and their money to establish this program and give back to the community. They understood the need for creating a path for success for these students that might not have otherwise been available. They, most assuredly, are heroes.
In a society in which all too often some of its members point to the teachings of Ayn Rand and her focus on self above all else as a prescription for society, how refreshing to have witnessed first-hand a program that epitomizes a commitment to community and the understanding that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Scotland Storm is just such a program.
I spoke with the founders of the Scotland Storm Program, Chris and Lauren Meade, to find out some specifics and a little history about the program. Specifically, Scotland Storm Community Development, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides free after-school and summer academic and sports programs for children from the historic Scotland Community in Potomac.
Why Scotland? That decision was based on need. In a community primarily comprised of lower income families, the ability to focus on educational needs of the children sometimes has to compete with the need to work several jobs and put food on the table. In the competition for time, sometimes homework assistance has to take a back seat. The Scotland Storm Program recognizes the need to fill this void.
The program was launched in the fall of 2013 and started with 27 Bells Mill Elementary School students who received one-on-one academic tutoring with homework assistance. In the summer of 2014, the program was expanded to include students from Cabin John Middle School and included a six-week academic and sports camp. The entire program continued with both the elementary and middle school students for the 2014 and 2015 school years through its academic and sports programs Mondays through Thursdays. Scotland Storm even provides a bus to return students to the Scotland community.
It is a goal of Scotland Storm to expand the program and to offer after-school and summer programs which support students as they progress through high school and seek admission to college. It is hoped that the program can eventually be expanded to include Churchill High School students.
I spoke to academic director Fred TenEyck and assistant director Renee TenEyck who explained that it is their goal to provide an educational environment and resources to help students complete homework and stay on top of their school assignments. The program emphasizes math calculation skills through the Kumon Math curriculum and students complete timed Kumon worksheets under the direct supervision of the volunteers. The scores are tabulated and then submitted to a local Kumon Center director who generously monitors the students’ progress. This is, indeed, a community effort.
For enrichment in reading, the program collaborates with teachers at Bells Mill Elementary and Cabin John Middle Schools who supply the materials to ensure that the afterschool support is consistent with current classroom instruction. It can't be emphasized enough that this program does not compete with the school system but is designed to supplement and support the work of the two local schools.
Moreover, it is the school that supplies the facilities used by the program and the school administration and its teachers fully support the program.
I also spoke to Coach Jabari Graham who indicated that all students participate in the athletic portion of the program. "In good weather, they are outdoors playing basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis and general fitness; in bad weather, they move indoors to the Cabin John gym. We also organize baseball, soccer and basketball teams for our students to compete in local leagues".
The work done in this program and its value to the community is not being missed. The Montgomery County Council recently approved a grant for the program and this is money well spent. Apparently the Montgomery County Council as well as the founders of Scotland Storm agree with the lyrics of a Whitney Houston hit, "The children are our future".
It is apparent that the program relies heavily on the commitment of volunteers. After becoming aware of the program and the altruism of its volunteers, I wanted, in my own small way, to help get the word out.
I hope that this column serves that purpose and makes others aware of the work being done by Scotland Storm.
I hope that the dedication to community exhibited through this program serves to inspire others to volunteer their time and energy to this cause.
I hope that the example of Scotland storm serves to inspire others to establish similar programs in their own communities.
For more information about this program and its work and how to volunteer, the Scotland Storm website can be found at scotlandstorm.org.