Black Lives Matter: Shawna Williams says that is what started it all

NCCU student Isaiah Williams tutors 7th grader Antonio Whitfield in preparation for his English exam. (Staff photo by Kayla Jones)

Black Lives Matter. Shawna Williams says that is what started it all

“As a retired educator,” she explains, “I believe that education is the first step in showing our children that black lives matter, that their lives matter.”

So, she started the Mt. Calvary United Church of Christ Tutorial Program two years ago on a leap and a prayer.

Williams went before the Auxiliary and Sunday School and Youth Department to ask for sponsorship to get the program up and started.

“I want this program to help students become thinkers – to increase their confidence to complete schoolwork and to prepare them for the future,” she told them. They agreed right away.

“I personally wouldn’t want to have anybody trying to teach me a subject and they didn’t know the materials themselves”, says Ishmel Glenn. Glenn is sophomore at N. C. Central University studying criminal justice. He has been volunteering with the tutorial program since last November when he found out about it at a community service meeting on campus.

“It is definitely more about the students than it is about the community service,” says Glenn pausing. “Seeing the progression of the students and knowing I helped to take part in that brings the warmest feeling to my heart.”

“We are a test FREE zone!” Williams says ecstatically while throwing her hands up in the air. The tutoring program bases the growth of the children on an ongoing assessment. This essentially means they monitor the grades they get on homework assignments, special projects, progress reports, and notes from the parents.

“I make sure the tutors know to work with Akira specifically on her visualization of numbers and alphabet in a one on one setting because she has to work on her attention span,” says Akira’s grandmother.

Johnson is a preschooler that just recently started attending the tutoring program. She has had one on one help for three weeks and her grandmother definitely wants to continue to see how things go. “I will allow her to come as long as my health permits,” says Johnson’s grandmother

Williams knows wholeheartedly that she did the right thing when starting the tutorial program.

“I get joy from helping the children of course. But, the purest joy I get is from helping the parents, especially the single parents,”

The program provides the parents with available resources to help their children free of charge.

“Just be on time for pickup,” says Williams while laughing out loud.

Since this is only the second year for the program, there is major hope for the future.

Williams looks forward to having a bus drop-off directly from the schools to the church, new up-to-date technology, finding a form of grant money, and most importantly having the program remain free within the next few years.

“We are still in the learning and reaching process. It is just one step at a time, one step at a time.”