Program brings up grades, brings home state award

B.U.G. has students bring up one grade each grading period while maintaining good grades in other classes

The Boys and Girls Club of Albany's Bringing Up Grades (B.U.G.s) program brought up students' grades nearly 50 percent according to officials there. The state recognized their success with the State Program of the Year Award from the Boys & Girls Club of Georgia.

"In the bug program you have to bring up at least one grade (per grading period) while you maintain the same grade for all of the other classes," says B.U.G.s Coordinator Dorene Parker. "Then it's up to the children. And the children just look forward to I guess someone showing interest in their achieving goals and bringing up grades."

The program encourages children to bring their grades up through incentives like pizza parties.

"Children, I've learned, that if they're rewarded when they strive to do better that they more than likely achieve their goals," says Parker.

The recent Adequate Yearly Progress report shows Dougherty County's graduation rate at 72.5 percent for 2011. It's statistics like this and the high dropout rate that initiated the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany and the Albany and Dougherty County Kiwanis Clubs to establish B.U.G.s.

"It was just sixth through eighth but the kids were 'we want a chance to compete too!' so know it will probably go down to our kindergarten because everyone wants a chance to be on the BUG team," says Michael Nelson, director of the Boys & Girls Club of East Albany.

Nelson says there is one student who stands out to him as a success of the B.U.G.s program: A student who once failed an entire grade.

"The mother continued to come, she believed in us. and through different programs such as BUG he was the kid that won the notepad and now he's getting help from the phoenix school, he's in the right grade level, he's on the honor role consistently," says Nelson.

He says students' troubles with grades often stems from their home life, giving volunteers a role beyond being a tutor.

"The fact that we're sitting there taking the time and listen to someone, you don't want to get into all of their business, but to take the time to listen, 'okay so he's going through this' then you share with the rest of the staff 'this is why he may not be doing well' so we adjust what we do," says Nelson.

B.U.G.s goal, along with boosting students' grades is boosting the self-esteem of students through goal setting and creating a more positive attitude among them about school. The students are also taught the importance of a high school diploma in finding employment and attending college or a technical school.

While it is a small initiative to some, Nelson says Grassroots efforts are the best to starting larger efforts.

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