For the second consecutive year, Pickerington Public Library officials and community volunteers will provide assistance to local students through its Homework Help Center.

For the second consecutive year, Pickerington Public Library officials and community volunteers will provide assistance to local students through its Homework Help Center.

Last year, more than $12,000 in donations from area groups allowed the library to open the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary Club Homework Help Center, in memory of the late Mary Ann Kirkby, a former Ridgeview Junior High School teacher and library trustee who died of lung cancer in 2009.

The library established its Homework Help Center with an eye on assisting students with school lessons and use of library materials, computers and other technology tools.

This year, the Homework Help Center is scheduled to re-open Sept. 15.

It primarily will seek to serve students in grades K-6, and its regular hours of operation will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the school year.

The center doesn't take reservations for one-on-one sessions for general visits. It operates on a walk-in basis.

"They don't have to sign up," said Colleen Bauman, the library's community services coordinator.

"They can just show up and sit down at a table," Bauman said.

"If they need help with a certain subject, volunteers will be there to help them."

New to the Homework Help Center this year is the "Book Buddy Reading Program," which will match children in grades K-3 with trained volunteer mentors.

Students will sign up for 15-minute tutoring sessions that will take place Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year.

The new program is being offered to help better prepare students for the Ohio Third Grade Reading Initiative, tests that requires third-graders to show a certain level of reading proficiency before they can advance to fourth-grade.

Additionally, the library's Juvenile Services Manager Cathy Burden became increasingly interested in the program after attending a recent workshop about reading readiness among younger children.

Burden said she learned "There is nearly a 90-percent probability that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of first grade.

"Thirty-five percent of children enter school without the skills needed to learn to read (and) more than 40 percent of fourth-graders read below their grade level.

"Knowledge of alphabet letters at the entry into kindergarten is a strong predictor of reading ability in 10th grade."

Students wishing to participate in the Book Buddy Reading Program will talk with their mentors about reading, and they'll work on reading and writing skills throughout their sessions.

In addition to writing about their own school and Book Buddy Reading lessons, participants are asked to bring a book to the sessions so they can read aloud with their mentors.

"It's basically in 15-minute increments," Bauman said.

"If they have a book they're working on, bring it," she said. "They can also bring a book from home or get a book from the library."

While the Homework Help Center is designed for children in grades K-6, community volunteers and area high school students can get involved by serving as mentors.

"There's an application that both teens and adults need to fill out," Bauman said. "They have to provide references.

"Adults provide professional references and teens can provide 'character references' from a teacher or an employer."

Adult mentors also must submit to fingerprinting as part of a background check, Bauman said.

Interested parents or guardians, as well as potential mentors, can contact Bauman at 614-837-4104, ext. 221, or at