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Nonprofits partner up to form learning pod for Cleveland Metropolitan School District students

Go inside a learning pod to see why they’re having great success for CMSD students.

CLEVELAND — Students and parents across Northeast Ohio are struggling with online learning during this time of COVID-19. But now, two nonprofits are teaming up to help a group of two dozen Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) students.

Greater Friendship Baptist Church transformed itself into a socially distanced education pod where students can learn.

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Cordale Scott with the nonprofit ‘Good 2 Great Youth Development’ says the students just need a little extra help to realize their full potential.

“You think that you’re not smart or that you can’t obtain knowledge. Kids are now learning that ‘Hey, if someone helps me and I take my time, I can grasp information and I can learn.' So that’s big for us,” says Scott.

Students still participate in CMSD online classes and get help with technology when needed.

A second grade student named Brooklyn Dial says she often has connectivity issues and can’t always get back on track without help. Students in the learning pod also get extra help. That's something Lavelle Hunter, a seventh grade student, says he didn’t get a lot of during in-person schooling.

“There are a lot more kids there than it is here, so they (teachers) can’t help us right away. So I like here better,” says Hunter.

Kristiaun Copez-Minor, the Youth Coordinator for Gem-N-Me, one of the local nonprofits to start this learning pod, says what makes it special is its ability to offer educational, social and emotional help seven days a week.

“Our at-risk students are just as capable as students that are in the outer ring suburbs or from a wealthy family. They just need the chance. They need the extra support and they deserve every little bit we’re giving them,” says Copez-Minor.

Silka Hilton is the pods’ Academic Advisor and says the more personalized appraoch to learning is having a positive impact on students in the pod.

“All of them were able to move up. The assessments have different levels so they hit their benchmarks. We even have one student where even her social worker reached out to me and said ‘What are you doing because she’s never been like this!” And that’s rewarding,” says Hilton.

On Monday, Cuyahoga County committed to investing $500,000 into local educational pods for CMSD students because the individualized aspect is seeing such great results.