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Cheektowaga-Sloan schools’ learning centers prove their value

A tool introduced to assist Cheektowaga-Sloan students who need extra help in their studies has been hailed as a success, and efforts are under way to improve on the product.

Two academic learning centers, one each for John F. Kennedy Middle School and High School, opened in September and are designed to help pupils of all learning capabilities, from honors students to those struggling to achieve a passing grade, build confidence and become independent learners.

Students who visit the centers can work at their own pace and in their own learning styles. Officials say common sights at the centers are study groups and students tutoring their classmates.

In addition to getting help in various subjects, students can also prepare for Regents exams, SATs and ACTs or learn better study habits and time management and organizational skills.

The centers have developed into accessible, supportive and productive learning environments where students feel safe and are inspired to strive for success, said Kelsey Miosi, who teaches in the high school center.

Both centers had grand openings in mid December, and attendance soared in January and held steady through the end of the academic year, with a daily January-June average of nearly 130 students using the facility.

In December, district officials said the center is designed to assist students of all learning levels.

At the June school board meeting, officials said 28.6 percent of those who used the high school center were honors or advanced placement students and 36.3 percent were students who typically require targeted intervention or other more intense academic support.

Math was the subject help was most sought after for, with nearly 39 percent of students requesting additional help. No other subject reached 20 percent; English was the next most in demand at 15.9 percent, and the only other subjects to top 15 percent were history and science.

The middle school’s academic learning center grew more popular as the school year went on: September’s daily average was 10, but by March, daily attendance was 79.

One big success was the middle school students improving their failing grades to passing by an average of nearly 25 points.

The centers also provide targeted intervention in several areas, such as Regents prep, teacher collaboration, child study teams and college and career readiness.

“We are extremely proud of the centers and all that has been accomplished in such a short time,” said Christine Ruffner, who teaches at the junior high center. “We’re excited to try new programs, new strategies and new ways to get students excited about learning in the years to come.”

The success of the centers attracted visits by high school officials from the Clarence, Hamburg, Kenmore East and Sweet Home school districts.

Future goals include developing a partnership between high school and middle school students, creating mini workshops for test-taking and organizational skills, expanding SAT prep and final exam review and celebrating student successes.