For many parents, the start of the 2020-2021 school year has been challenging, as students of all ages are forced to endure curriculum and classroom time stymied by the pandemic. There are no easy or one-size-fits-all solutions for overcoming this, but there are a number of innovative public and private resources that are available to families.
On Staten Island, Eric James and Deric Borrero are at the helm of businesses that specialize in helping students succeed.
Eric James, the CEO of Young Minds in Motion (YMIM), which is located in Fox Hills, leads the educational center for children ages 2 through 6. YMIM is a Gifted and Talented prep program. To start, each child is tested and assessed before entering the school. Once the assessment is complete, and strengths and weaknesses have been identified, YMIM staff members build each student an individualized curriculum. Due to the pandemic and after surveying the needs of local families, they decided to expand their program to include Pre-K students.
“How do you come up with a strategy that is the best strategy when you’ve never seen this ever in history? As a result of that, you have parents that are looking for leadership. And they don’t have that leadership—not as a knock— they just never been through this particular thing,” explained James.
Deric Borrero is co-owner of The Resource Room. Locations can be found in West Brighton and New Dorp. Founded in 2015, the tutoring center is run by a team of dedicated professionals with decades of educational experience. The Resource Room offers tutoring in a wide range of academic subjects for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as in some college-level courses.
“Our program provides students the opportunity to have not only test prep, but also to have a learning center where they can do their homework and prepare for their classes on a regular basis. More importantly, it gives them a sense of pride and joy being able to come to a location that understands who they are, where they are, and how we can make their connections to school and home a little easier,” said Borrero.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Borrero and James discussed joining forces. That way, they could provide more resources to Island-based students. Seeing the pandemic as an opportunity rather than a challenge, they expedited their plans and teamed up to offer more options to a larger group of Staten Island students. Services include in-person and online options.
“Between Young Minds in Motion and The Resource Room, we both offer something very unique to the Staten Island community that currently isn’t being offered under one house,” said Borrero.
Staying positive and solution-oriented during these stressful times is key for Borrero and James. They say they’re providing flexibility for those struggling with all the uncertainty surrounding New York City schools.
“Parents are under a great deal of stress. And when they’re walking in, they’re coming in—to a degree—somewhat defeated. So, I want to reassure them that when you walk into our locations, we’re going to help you out,” said Borrero.
“This is an amazing time, and the things that the parents should really be concentrating on not the X’s and O’s—the straight education—but the creativity. We’re seeing more creativity than I’ve seen in a long, long time. And we’re stressing to all parents that that’s something that they should really embrace, really stay on top, to really make this a creativity challenge, how they can do different things,” shared James. “The X’s and O’s, we’ll be able to get that done if the child is creative enough to figure out a different solution to what is happening.”
Another takeaway from COVID-19, according to Borrero and James: Remember to manage expectations during these unprecedented times.
“I think that’s very, very key. Not to put undue pressure on the children,” said James. “You’re seeing that more and more because children have been out of school for so many months. The parent is fearful that they’re so far behind.”
According to James, using a national assessment guide to evaluate where your student is in their educational development compared to a national standard can help settle those nerves.
“The expectation of the person, rather than what the child can do, sometimes has to be dealt with first. So, what we’ve found ourselves doing is reassuring the parent that they’re going in the right direction,” said Borrero.
To learn if either of these educational centers can help your child or student, visit youngmindsinmotion.com or resourceroomsi.com.