A come-from-behind victory could be waiting in the wings for those who enroll in the summer “Catch up and Sneak Ahead” program. The summer program at the Pasadena Public Library’s La Pintoresca Branch helps give students in the area the skills necessary to assist them with entry into advanced-level AP courses.
The Catch Up and Sneak Ahead program works to increase the grade levels of disadvantaged kids by tutoring them in math, science, art and literature in a fun and creative way. Rosa Cesaretti is the volunteer coordinator at the library who heads up the program. Catch Up and Sneak Ahead has received the support of the community and in particular has outstanding volunteers.
“I wanted everybody to know about it and know about the great things that they’re doing,” said Pasadena Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton. “The volunteers are also high school students and college students. So not only are kids learning, but also the kids who are volunteering are learning tons of types of skills.
Cesaretti said the program is on the rise, gaining popularity and started organically out of need.
“We were discussing what we could do here at the library for the students and we thought maybe over the summer so children don’t forget what they learned, and then start introducing them to new concepts,” Cesaretti said. “We got the idea from meeting at the African American Parent Council. They were meeting, back in May and discussing how the AP courses in high school have very few African American students.”
So Cesaretti and the volunteers stepped in. She expects that it will be an ongoing summer program through the years. For this year, there are two sessions left and they take place Thursday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 30.
Hampton said he is proud that the program is growing.
“The first couple of days of the program, there may have been some 20-odd kids there but [recently] there were 69 kids in the program,” he said.
“One skill is to communicate and actually teach another child also. They’re not only going to stay ahead of themselves, because one thing I remember being in school was that my teacher would always say that if you could teach somebody this, you’ll always have it. You’ll always remember it.”
The program offers a variety of specialties, all of which approach subject matter and lessons in a creative fashion, Cesaretti said.
“We have students from ages 3 to 13 coming,” Cesaretti said. “We get an average of 50 kids for each session. They’re at different levels, so we usually separate them according to what their levels are, unless it’s a program that all of them can do together.
“One of the sessions we had, they were learning statistics,” she said. “They were learning also graphing and they use candies. So they’re learning but not realizing they’re learning because they’re having so much fun. And the teen volunteers are very engaged. The adult volunteers have organized every session.
Adult volunteers are Lillian Thompson, retired LAUSD elementary school teacher; Roz Collier, retired math teacher from Alhambra School District; Dale Burger, retired JPL engineer. The teen volunteers are: Arely; Victor; Bryant; Oliver; Edward; Josue and Jason
Volunteer and financial assistance is always welcome.
“We were really fortunate that right when we started planning this we were able to get a grant from the California Library Association for a summer program,” Cesaretti said. “So we were able to purchase the materials to use, but we also purchased a ton of books. So the children based on how many times they’ve attended the program, then they’ll get first choice.”
The skills learned can help spark motivation to pursue opportunities in new emerging fields and new courses of study that could possibly lead to jobs with local companies, she said.
“Maybe I’m biased because I am a representative of that library, but I would say that La Pintoresca Library, it’s one of the most community-oriented libraries that I’ve seen,” Hampton said. “We have tons of community volunteers that come in.”
For more information, call the La Pintoresca Branch Library at (626) 744-7268. The library is located at 1355 North Raymond Avenue.