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South Georgia program helps 'Bridge the Gap'

Posted at 7:59 PM, Jul 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-20 19:59:29-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Preventing the 'Summer Slide' when it comes to reading is on the minds of parents and grandparents in South Georgia.

With 18 days until students go back to class in Valdosta, literacy is a top priority for the year ahead.

"My late mother who was at the time functionally illiterate, could not read and write, but she had a passion and a will to make sure her children were educated," said Carlos Hundley, founder of Bridging the Gap.

Educating children. That's the mission behind Bridging the Gap, a 4-week program in Valdosta for kids. It's designed to improve or maintain learning levels over the summer.

"What drives me to do Bridging the Gap and Helping Homework is that I was the student that I'm currently serving."

Hundley is also a teacher at Valdosta City Schools, in addition to being the founder of Bridging the Gap. It's been going on for about five summers, helping kids work toward graduation.

In the 2021-2022 school year, Valdosta City Schools saw a graduation rate of about 95%. The program is designed to get more students across that finish line.

"I just told myself I was going to do all I can, learn all I can, can all I learn, and help anybody from that standpoint," said Hundley.

He's building a foundation for kids that Alice Parks says she's glad her granddaughter can learn from.

"I've had an opportunity to sit in and watch the children as they just absorbed everything, they just went step by step increasing the level of difficulty," said Parks.

For Parks it was a no brainer to keep bringing Melodi to bridging the gap, as well as the school year program helping homework.

"Grade level, she's been doing great, she's been doing great. We've been hoping and praying for scholarships... right? Yeah, we want scholarships," said Parks.

And for Melodi, it wasn't too hard to convince her to go.

"I like reading, I love doing math sometimes, I really love social studies, so I really liked that we have a program that we can come to real often," Melodi said.

Parks says it's so much more than a tutoring program.

"They were bringing in different professionals to show the children different things about chemistry and a whole bunch of different genre to learn and understand," Parks said.

Hundley plans on talking with his students teachers to see what they've learned and how they've grown, so he can make necessary tweaks.

"Even if we can't help them directly we can find the resources to get them help so that they can ultimately go on and do better in life and grow up and be productive citizens in society, that's what I'm looking for," Hundley said.

The program started with about eight kids, it's grown now to almost 50. Hundley hopes to have 100 kids in the program next year.

Bridging the Gap also has a school year component that should start in mid-September, it's called Helping Homework. Both programs are free. Anyone interested in signing their kids up can contact Carlos Hundley at (229)262-9982.