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Interfaith Alliance of C-L offers remote learning center

By Larry Stombaugh
For the Clemmons Courier

The Interfaith Alliance of Clemmons and Lewisville is sponsoring a remote learning site for local students. The project that began in early February is led by Dr. Vincent Howell, the pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Clemmons. As the leader of the Interfaith Alliance, Howell has initiated a number of community projects with several of them benefiting students in local schools.

The Winston-Salem Forsyth County school system approached Howell about the need for a remote learning site for students in the Lewisville and Clemmons communities as many students continue to take their classes online during the pandemic. The students at the learning center come from various backgrounds and grade levels. They benefit from being in a focused learning environment with direct contact with their tutors and other support staff. The students can get help from tutors while they are online with their teachers.     

While face-to-face learning is now in place for all students in the WSFCS system, students still have the option of doing their classes remotely, and many are doing so. The learning site for the Interfaith Alliance project is the Lewisville community center, and there is still space available for more students to enroll. Howell credits Mike Horn, the mayor of Lewisville for making the community center available for the learning site. “It’s a great thing to have a place at no cost at all,” Howell said.

Rachel Maynard and Nathan Nelson. Maynard is the WSFCS tutor and Nelson is the YMCA site supervisor.

Howell noted that that it takes a lot of volunteers for the program. Their primary roles are teaching and mentoring as well as cleaning the site. He has been overwhelmed by the contributions of local churches for both providing volunteers as well as providing snacks and water for the students. ”It has been amazing how generous the faith community has been with their contributions,” he said.

Cheryl Wright, who is the program manager for extended programs for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System, is delighted with the partnership that has developed between the school system and those who have been involved in the remote learning project. “We’ve realized that this is a difficult season for our students,” she said. “This partnership has done a great job of providing a safe place for students. This has been a phenomenal experience for the families involved.”

Commenting on the work that Dr. Howell and others in the community have done to make the project successful, Wright said, “Ask, and you will receive. This project has closed some barriers for families where children would not have the opportunity for good support and tutoring.”

Alexandra Scoggin is the community engagement facilitator for the Interfaith Alliance. Her role in the project is to recruit volunteers and to do publicity for the center. She is also the site coordinator and noted that the center provides a focused learning setting for the students. “There is a positive learning environment,” she said. “These are students who need learning support, and we have provided a focused environment where they have the accountability of the staff.”   

Pictured are Kim McClure (not really visible) and Stacey McElveen from the Y, Nathan Nelson, and Mayor Mike Horn.

Scoggins noted that eight students are currently enrolled at the site, but there is enough space to accommodate about 15 students.   

Some funding for the program has come from a grant provided by the Clemmons Community Foundation. Masks, cleaning supplies, thermometers, and water have been purchased from this grant. Scandi Scannelli is the president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation. Like others involved with the project, she has been impressed by the level of involvement by so many individuals. “The charge has been led by Dr. Howell as he has met with so many people. This has been quite a community effort,” she said.

The YMCA has been responsible for putting safety protocols in place for the center as well as providing liability insurance.  Stacey McElveen is the executive direction of education of the YMCA and has played an active role in the success of the Lewisville center. “We provide supervision and academic support for the students and community resources for parents.” she said.

Regarding the success of the center, McElveen said, “We have a new normal with the pandemic where we have had to learn how to work together and to be creative. Like many difficult situations, COVID has brought out the best of us.”

The Lewisville remote learning center is open on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost to enroll is $25 a week.

Dr. Powell is hopeful that more students will enroll since there is still space available. He is very grateful for the many individuals who have made this project successful for both current and future students to take advantage of a dynamic learning environment.

“I am so elated about how this came about,” Howell stated, “Folks from the Y, the Clemmons Community Foundation, local pastors, and the school system worked so well together on this.”