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Making Learning Interesting for Middle School Students

The MIRA Club in Athens, Ohio, continues to make a difference in the Southeastern Ohio community. The club is an outgrowth of a Managing Information with Rural America (MIRA) initiative grant awarded in 1997. While the Ohio Cluster grant to the Athens Community Team ended in 2000, the club continues to offer an after-school enrichment program for Athens Middle School students with the goal of making learning interesting for students, and encouraging them to go on to post-secondary education. According to Paul Grippa, principal of Athens Middle School, approximately 20 to 30 students participated in the program during the 2003-2004 school year.

MIRA Club provides a routine, positive learning environment for students and is staffed by high school students and adults. The majority of the mentors are high school students who volunteer their time to tutor the youth. The curriculum focuses on fun and interesting activities requiring students to search for resolutions and encouraging personal expression and group activities.

During the 2003-2004 school year, a half dozen high school student volunteers tutored children one day a week. The program gives high school students the opportunity to give back to the community while providing the middle school students with fun and safe after-school activities.  “I’m so pleased that the program is continuing long after the first group of students who started the program have graduated,” said Grippa. At the end of each school year, senior volunteers recruit new volunteers to continue the success of the Athens, Ohio, MIRA Club. 

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