DAVIDSON – May 9 was a day for celebration at the Ada Jenkins Center as participants of the LEARN (Linking Everyone to Achievement Resources Now) Works program showed off their work during the Leader Showcase.

“This is the most important event of the year,” said LEARN Works Program Director Diane Means to attendees. “Next week is the last week (for this school year) and we wanted to make sure students, families and volunteers have the best memory possible and give students a chance to show off. This is all about you.”

During the school year, 102 impoverished, at-risk youth in first through seventh grades from Davidson, JV Washam and Cornelius elementary schools and Bailey Middle School have been attending the LEARN Works program to get extra help with their academics and participate in enrichment opportunities while increasing confidence and leadership skills.

“Before this, he had a hard time keeping up,” said Allison Cook of her son, William. “It’s helped get him focus and maintain his grades. We love this place. They gave him help I couldn’t give him at home.”

William said he’s improved his learning habits and read a lot of books.

“I also learned my math facts and that was a big help,” he said.

With volunteers, students can get specific homework help while program teachers provide additional individual instructional time for overarching skills that may be lacking such as decoding words or reading comprehension, said teacher Iris Rouleau. LEARN Works also offers clubs and other enrichment activities during the week.

Parents, friends and teachers were invited to the showcase to celebrate the students’ achievements by taking a tour of the classrooms and seeing their work before going to the gym for dinner and a video about the program. Mothers also received roses for Mother's Day. 

To display what they’ve learned over the year, each student created a time capsule, made from cardboard boxes with pages of writing and illustrations inside.

Some of the subjects one student from Davidson Elementary worked on this year were multiplication tables and reading a variety of books.

Her mother didn’t stop beaming as her daughter showed her the capsule and presented her a rose.  

In addition to show showing off the LEARN Works program, May 9 marked the dedication of the LEARN Works Teaching Garden.

It was constructed thanks to contributors and volunteers, including Davidson Commissioner Jim Fuller, Davidson Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth Welliver of Davidson College, the Archie family, Carmichael Family, Houston Family and Trevor Hudspeth.

The flower, vegetable and butterfly garden is in memory of Mary Archie, who served as snack coordinator at the center until her passing last November, and Mercedes Carmichael, who was the granddaughter of one of the LEARN Works teachers and often visited the center until she died from cancer.