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New tutoring & aftercare center fills gaps left by COVID-19

GRAMERCY — Disparities in access to online resources during the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified the need for widespread intervention and assistance for students returning to school, according to a recent report by Education Week.

As a teacher with nearly 15 years of experience, LaCria Martin Lee, M.Ed., is no stranger to the loss of learning children in the River Parishes experience over the summer. Greater deficits are anticipated this year since school doors closed in March, and Lee is determined to give students the individualized attention they need to succeed, whether in-person or virtually.

Lee and her husband, Gaius P. Lee, recently opened Eterna“Lee” Blessed Minds Tutoring & Aftercare at 120 Main Street in Gramercy. Hours of operation are from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but students do not need to come into the building to receive tutoring assistance.

Lee said virtual tutoring, when conducted to meet the needs of the individual student, can provide the supplemental support to help children reach their fullest intellectual potential.

Eterna“Lee” Blessed Minds is ready to service children of all ages, from curious kindergarteners to hardworking high schoolers. Lee has worked in St. John the Baptist and St. James parishes and has been honored as a Teacher of the Year recipient. She is assisted by straight ‘A’ Riverside Academy student Cameron Louque and St. James Parish educator Arthur Bosworth IV.

“From being a schoolteacher, I knew the deficits that the students would be facing from the pandemic,” Lee said. “So many people request me for tutoring. I knew I was going to be getting more requests this year because St. James Parish is doing hybrid classes, and the virtual part has been mindboggling for parents.”

Lee said virtual lessons offered through the school system are not always one size fits all, especially when they involve pre-recorded videos. In her tutoring services, Lee incorporates Google Meet and a combination of online tools to identify the areas where children need educational support. In-person tutoring is also offered to families who prefer to meet face-to-face.

“I have an actual building for the parents who feel comfortable with their children coming to do a one-on-one meeting,” Lee said. “Those who do not feel comfortable can actually meet with me on the Internet. I share my screen, they share their screen, and we go over things that they need assistance with. I can look on Eureka and find out what concepts the student is struggling with to fill in the gaps.”

Lee accommodates hands-on learners in her virtual sessions by encouraging them to use household objects in their lessons. She also pre-loads supplemental educational materials through Google forms that students can write on.

English language arts and math skills are the most susceptible to learning loss, according to Lee, and it is essential to close the educational gaps.

“Let’s not just look at a video for everybody because the whole point is everyone learns differently. Let’s target how you learn. You might be a kinesthetic learner. You might be an auditory learner,” Lee said. “The whole motivation for doing it was to assist the kids, assist the parents and just to show there is a different way of learning.”

The most rewarding part for Lee will always be the “ah-ha!” moment that students have when they finally master a concept they were puzzled by.

Eterna“Lee” Blessed Minds is open to any student in the tri-parish area. Anyone interested in acquiring information on tutoring or aftercare services may call the office at 225-417-7030 or email eternaleeblessedminds@gmail.com.