Success Center to close end of September

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

The Mesalands Community College’s Success Center will close its doors on Sept. 30.

The closing means the center will no longer offer its after-school tutoring program or family academies, said Success Center director Beth Sisneros.

“I loved the center,” said nine-year-old Robert Marez, who attended the center twice a week last school year.

“I learned something. They helped me with my math, spelling, English, everything,” he said. “The teachers were great.”

Young Marez’s mother, Veronica Marez, said she was disappointed the center was closing.

“I’m not happy about it because they helped him. Robert was having problems with math. I got him on the program and he now he’s coming home with Bs. I don’t know what I’m going to do if he’s still having problems when he gets into the fourth grade.”

The programs offered by the center have offered her son the best tutoring services, Marez said.

“We just finished our summer program at the end of July but are ineligible to apply for the federal grant for funding this year,” said Sisneros. “We will not start our tutoring program when the school year starts since we will be closing on Sept. 30.”

The center was opened in 2003 with the goal of getting more students through school and into college, said Sisneros.

There were eight employees who helped to tutor the students after school and put on evening workshops for families that included topics such as life skills, budget planning, computer basics, nutrition and other topics that might help the family, said Sisneros.
Four of the staff are full-time workers and the remaining four are part-time workers, she said.

Last year, the center had 37 students enrolled in the after school program and 22 who were enrolled in the summer program, said Sisneros. There were also 23 parents and students who participated in the family academies offered by the center, said Sisneros.

“We have records that show the children that attended the success center had definite improvement in school,” said Sisneros. “What we did was not just help the student academically but we also helped to build self-esteem. We formed a very close bond with parents of the students while we worked with them.”

“The Tucumcari Public Schools acknowledges that the Success Center played a part in the improved AYP scores this year,” said Dennis Roch, assistant superintendent.

“We are hopeful that other programs like the success center will open up in Tucumcari for the students.”
The Success Center was funded by a federal Title V grant that provided $2 million for five years to pay for its salaries, equipment, supplies, travel and benefits.

“It’s not that we do not want to have the Success Center,” said Mesalands Community College president Phillip O Berry. “The board wants to continue having the center. The college does not meet the criteria to receive the grant this year.”

Sisneros said she is hopeful that the center can reapply after a year’s waiting period.

Along with the benefit to the children, the college benefited greatly from the Title V grant for Hispanic serving institutions, said Berry. As a recipient of a Title V grant, Mesalands Community College qualified for certain programs. For example, the college raised $125,000 for scholarships that was matched by the federal government. As a result the college was able to create a $250,000 endowment for scholarships, said Berry.

The scholarship will remain within the school for the life of the college and the college can only give out 50 percent of the earnings of the scholarship in the first 20 years, said Berry. By retaining half of the earnings, and re-investing them in the scholarship fund, it provides for scholarships for future students, said Berry

“The grant also made it possible for the college to enhance the technology training for the faculty and the schools equipment,” said Berry. “We were able to educate and infuse the staff on Cultural diversity of the students and surrounding community.”

Chelle Delaney contributed to this story.