For the second year, Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) has brought back its after-school tutoring program, Beyond the Bell.
Beyond the Bell is a free, virtual tutoring program available for elementary school through high school students. Over 80 volunteer teachers throughout the school district participate in the after-school initiative.
Teachers assist students with various subjects — with math being the most pressing — during the virtual calls. Certified teachers use their skill sets to meet the needs of the students.
Through a few days in August and the entire month of September, 350 to 400 students attended the Beyond the Bell program.
"We want the number of teacher volunteers and students to be even higher," said Candace Davis, ACPS coordinator of supplemental educational interventions, in a phone interview. "We want those numbers to grow, so we have reached out to places like the Boys and Girls Club, public libraries, and other places where the kiddos hang out to spread the word."
The program is available every week, Monday through Thursday.
The elementary school sessions run from 3 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. The middle and high school sessions are available from 6 to 7 p.m.
Davis highlighted that in the future, the program might get creative to ensure students in extracurricular activities — such as band, clubs, or sports — can participate if the kids feel inclined to do so.
"We also want to look into our lower performing and English learning students to see how we can best serve them after school," Davis said. "We have students who have some major deficits, but we have been able to expose them to literature, which has been lovely."
Beyond the Bell tries to keep the teachers consistent with the grade level rooms on the virtual calls so the kids gain a sense of familiarity.
"One of the really neat things about the tutoring program is the fact that our students love the accountability aspect,” Davis said. “They come back day after day. I've actually personally tutored in a room just to help out, and I've encountered the same student three or four times, and it's been nice to refer back to a prior lesson."
Parents and students can visit the Beyond the Bell webpage to sign up for the program.