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Centralia’s SMART program turns 5

Posted on Friday, November 15, 2019 at 6:31 am

The afternoon of October 22, a group of adults and young Centralia R-VI students commemorated an educational and public service milestone near the intersection of Railroad and Jefferson Streets.

That is the headquarters of the SMART program, begun as an offshoot and support arm of a few R-VI School District programs to help young students before they could be considered “at-risk.

Learning about the SMART program from one of the student volunteers.

Student volunteer aides such as Shyann Smith and Danielle Colley guided visitors around the SMART office showing them what students have been doing in the way of improving their grades and otherwise bettering themselves.

That included one wall, sporting what Colley and Smith called the “jobs wall,” listing tasks the students were supposed to do while at the SMART office, when they were not working with student tutors on their homework.

The ?12-feet long main table bisecting the room was covered in pumpkins in various states of décor as SMART students prepared them for the annual Kinkead Pharmacy jack-o-lantern contest. “We also use the table for learning to cook and crafts,” Colley said.

An arrangement of snacks is set up on a table surrounded by chairs. Smith explained those were snacks SMART students could purchase with “SMART Bucks,” which they earned by successfully completing homework assignments and tasks around the office or participating in various volunteer-outreach projects.

“You can also earn them by doing a good deed,” she said.

The offices also have several Chromebook laptop computers for students to use.

Distany Smith said she was a SMART volunteer because she wanted to give back to a program that had helped many of her fellow-students.

“We like doing this, because we like helping the younger students get good at school,” she said, “and we really like Mrs. Matthiesen.”

She was referring to Lisa Matthiesen, the program’s founder and currently Chester Boren Middle School librarian, after more than a decade of teaching math for the district.