The Jesus Peoples Ministry Enrichment Center’s (JPMEC) Afterschool Program is a non-profit 501c (3) organization that provides homework assistance and tutoring in the areas of reading, creative writing, math and specifically FCAT math and FCAT reading. The program began eight years ago the in the church’s modestly sized library and each year it expanded into other rooms of the church as more students and parents become interested and programs were implemented.
In addition to the basic fundamental educational assistance the program also offers courses in Performing Arts that draw on cognitive skills and talents that are transferable to the classroom experience and school lessons. JPMEC is a year round program where we put a strong emphasis on teaching youth to demonstrate the right character in all that you do, states Barbara Hunter, Executive Director for Community Development Programs, “that’s the whole motto, to build character so they can become confident.”
JPMEC has been in the Miami Gardens community for 28 years and the founder and former pastor, the late Bishop Isaiah S. Williams Jr., created the JPM Enrichment Center to provide a safe educational environment where children in the community could come and be serviced.
“The Bishop’s idea that because they were in Miami Gardens/ Carol City area,- – the children could still be exposed to the community worldwide and other cultural things,” Hunter Said.
Dr. Gloria Williams, wife of the late Bishop has assumed leadership of the organization to continue the legacy t her husband established. She as well wants children to be exposed to every facet of art, culture and a curriculum they may not have the opportunity to be exposed to on a daily basis in school or their community.
Samuel Collie, 8, who attends the Enrichment Center’s Afterschool Program eagerly and swiftly raised his hand to be the first to answer the quiz game question he was being asked by his instructor. He has gone from being a ‘D’ student to a ‘B’ student from playing learning games and by getting the assistance with his schoolwork at the JPMEC Afterschool Program.
“I love coming here. We have a lot of fun,” Collie said. “I really like it when we play the learning games because they are really competitive and I like to win.”
The afterschool program provides various courses to students at little or no cost to parents thanks to funding from Miami Dade County, City of Miami Gardens, Department of Juvenile Justice, and private funding. This funding allows parents who cannot afford to pay for the programs to enroll their kids and receive a scholarship. Thanks to the funding, JPMEC is able to provide a reasonably priced academic tutorial program at a reduced priced for parents who can afford to pay.
All instructors employed by JPMEC are Miami-Dade and Broward County Public Schools certified in their respective areas of course assignments. The objective of the program is to make sure that there are qualified instructors who can effectively enhance what teachers are doing in the classroom on a consistent and daily basis.
“You’re going to get some work done when you come here. You’re going to have fun, but you are going to get some work done,” Hunter said.
The program also has a group of volunteers that work along with the tutorial director and program coordinator to provide homework assistance. A huge part of the program is helping students with their homework.
JPMEC has established pre/post assessments to track all students’ progress enrolled in the program. They have seen marked improvements in students who have gained two points on the FCAT, or excelled two grade levels, in addition to attendance and behavior improvements. One of the biggest challenges for JPMEC overall is improving students behavior. Hunter said many of them are acting out in class because they cannot follow the lesson plan. The after school program augments what the teachers are doing in class; the students are then able to understand what is being taught, and therefore their behavior starts to improve.
Plans are in the future to construct a facility for JPMEC for the Afterschool Program specifically. The building will be conveniently located on the property that sits adjacent to the church’s current location.
Even though JPMEC has achieved many successes, there is still a long road ahead to achieving maximum success.