MacMillan Dictionary defines “help” as a way to make a situation better, to give another assistance, support or aid.
The word HELP perfectly defines this educational program.
1992-As soon as I made it known that I was going to remove my son from school and home-school him I had several friends asking me to include their children in my class as well.
Soon I was delivering PK to 4th grade to 15 children from my home. In addition to basic academics, the concept of “helping others” was a daily theme with this small group sponsoring toy drives and egg hunts for needy children in the community; doing a park clean-up or “adopting” young patients from the local children’s hospital and providing the child with a special activity or toy.
My students were thrilled not only to be learning but to be actively impacting the community in such a positive way. By the time the kids were doing middle school work we had received over 100 letters from various organizations acknowledging our efforts.
It was at this time that I found out about the Hollywood Education & Literacy Project located on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. H.E.L.P. was a tutoring center that focused on eradicating illiteracy using the study methods of L. Ron Hubbard.
I took 4 kids to LA for a week to tour the H.E.L.P. project and to train up as tutors, with the idea of expanding my home-school activity to include teaching others to read.
1998 H.E.L.P. Miami was born.
Upon returning to Miami, we got immediately busy and put our newly learned tutor skills to work. The first week we tutored 23 hours, by the end of the month we were averaging over 80 hours tutored a week to young and old alike.
My 15 year old son was working with a 55 year old Vietnam Vet. (They worked together for 2 years and the man says that he got his life back. He ended up getting a job and out of the “projects.”) My 12 year old daughter was in-charge of training up tutors, which she was very good at. By the time my daughter was 15 she was hired to teach the children of a world famous Grammy award winning hip hop/rapper to read, which went very well.
Soon I had a small army of teenage tutors who either helped with the home-school activity or tutored part time in the afternoons. (I want to interject something here-of the dozen or so teenage tutors, including my four children, NONE ever turned to drugs or alcohol.) Why would they? The kids were busy, they were getting paid and they were effectively helping others. AND when stats were up I would treat them to movies, go carts or arcades. Truly a win-win situation.
Right before Christmas of 2001 I got a call from Tamara. She was desperate for help with her 10 year old daughter. Despite enrollment in three of the best (and most expensive) private schools in the area the girl could not read. The best psychologists and the best psychiatrists said the girl had a “low IQ” and should be labeled and medicated. At the suggestion of her dentist, Tamara decided to give me a call.
I explained to Tamara that my 17 year old son would work with her daughter and I went over exactly what the plan would be. The girl needed an academic win and we would get it with intensive phonics at a kindergarten level and basic math. No homework, no book reports, no stress. And in just 9 weeks Tamara’s daughter was reading at a third grade level. (Something the certified experts could not do; yet a 17 year old did with ease.) Tamara’s daughter went on to graduate high school with a 3.65 GPA and graduated college.
Tamara proposed we get the school out of my house, put up $100,000 to renovate a store-front in a local mall and the rest to sound really cliché is history.
H.E.L.P. Miami is now a fully accredited, K-12 private school with an enrollment of 80 students. (Our max is 85.)
I invite you to read through this website with the hope that you will become inspired enough to start a home-school/ tutoring activity or will contribute to the support and expansion of H.E.L.P. Miami.
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