Atlanta Public Schools students once again will get some much-appreciated help with their school work tonight when the award-winning Homework Hotline reopens its phone lines. The Hotline phone number, 678-553-3029, normally can be reached Mondays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can also visit the Web site: www.myhomeworkhotline.org.
A joint venture between Atlanta Public Schools and Public Broadcasting Atlanta, the Homework Hotline a staff of current and retired APS educators who field calls from students stuck on a range of academic subjects, whether it’s a complicated algebra equation or conjugating verbs properly. The core staff includes three fulltime APS teachers and two retired teachers, including Glenn Randall. That’s the gentleman, a 38-year APS teacher, who graces the poster you see in the 2009-10 APS Guidebook!
Randall says he gets calls from across the nation, a testament to the popularity of the hotline. “I’d get a call from a young woman in Boca Raton, three to four times a week,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve had kids from APS who call all four years of high school, and when they go to college locally, they’ll keep calling.
“When they call, you have to reach back to those primary aspects of the early years of math education,” Randall explained. “You’ve got to go with them step by step. I’ll write out the problem, and then I’ll go over it with them. At first, half of them won’t understand any of it, and the other half, once you hear the problem and explain it, they’ll figure it out right away. Sometimes, if I won’t know an answer right away, I’ll take their name and phone number and call them back — if it’s a local call!”
The Hotline even helps Spanish-language students with the addition last year of Bolton Academy teacher Julio Blanco (above), a native of Colombia. Blanco has taught Spanish for eight years, and will get questions on everything from subjects like math and social studies but also basic English-language questions. “There’s such a large Hispanic population here, and with the Homework Hotline I can help them understand what the teachers are trying to tell them,” Blanco said. “For a lot of students, this is their first time here, they’re still learning the language, so they’ll say, ‘I don’t understand, I don’t know what to do.” But when Blanco can notices the appreciation when a student finally grasps the answer to a problem: “When they say thank you, you can just feel how they say it. It’s like when your kid says ‘I love you.’ It’s like a hug over the phone.”
The Homework Hotline received a warm hug last spring when it was given a My Source Community Impact Award for Education from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (Check out the press release here.)
“Sometimes there’s a void between what’s being taught and what’s being grasped by our students, and sometimes the void gets really big, and these teachers help fill that void so well,” said Public Broadcasting Atlanta President Milton Clipper.
The Homework Hotline officially begins on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and will assume its regular schedule the following Monday.