Yacolt Primary School Offers After-School PERC

posted Jan 8, 2015, 4:15 PM by BGPS Web

Yacolt Primary School Offers After-School PERC

January 8, 2015

After classrooms have emptied and the last bus has exited the parking lot at Yacolt Primary School, two instructional assistants set up signs outside the school's entrance and go back inside to power up a bank of computers. Inside the large common room at Yacolt, the duo check the shelves filled with books for anything that might be in disarray and open cabinet doors to reveal games and activities that focus on numbers, letters, and word practice.

PERC is open. The Parent Educational Resource Center is a library of sorts that offers reading materials, computer and board games, and Internet access to families and provides educational resources that they can use after school and check out to use at home. Many in the rural, forested community of Yacolt do not have Internet access at home, and want to continue learning in the evening hours. They can do that at Yacolt Primary School twice a week, from 4:15-6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Karen Homola, who has six kids in Battle Ground Public Schools, returned a long list of books during a recent visit to Yacolt's PERC. She said her family has benefited from checking out the materials, especially the leveled books.

Homola needed access to books that would give her first-grade daughter additional reading practice outside the classroom, but had difficulty determining which books the girl should read until she discovered the baskets of books at PERC. The books are leveled to match the reading curriculum taught in Battle Ground Public Schools so that students can check out books that fit their reading abilities.

Having graduated levels of difficulty builds students' confidence while increasing comprehension and fluency. Since she started checking out the leveled books, Homola's daughter has improved her reading ability. 

Sandra Clark and Sue Wolden, the two learning support instructional assistants who run Yacolt's PERC and greet and assist families as they arrive, said the leveled books and computers are the most heavily used resources in the center, and the center will be adding four computers this year. Most nights the bank of computers have users on them the entire time that PERC is open. Students and parents alike use them to access the Internet and educational games. Clark and Wolden can help students log in to the same software and educational websites that they use in the classroom.

Yacolt's PERC is funded by federal money from the Title I program, which provides financial assistance to schools with high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. The federal program requires that 1 percent of the funds go to an activity that engages parents in their children's education.

Battle Ground Public Schools opened one of its first PERC rooms at Captain Strong Primary in the mid-1990s. Since then, several schools have offered PERC facilities based on need and space availability.

"It's a way to connect with parents," said Amy Webber, the learning support program secretary. "We support parents by helping them work with their children."

During their recent visit, the Homola kids were mesmerized as they pulled baskets of books from the shelves and sifted through them to determine which ones they wanted to check out. Karen Homola readied a large tote bag for the new batch of books. "More people should know about this," she said. "You can find the books at their level."