Miss B’s Success Story
Quite simply, Miss B’s removed key barriers which hold back children in poverty and keep them from achieving success in school.
LaToya Bullard – otherwise known as Miss B – held the first academic enrichment program for children struggling in school in 2006. They convened around her kitchen table. “That year, I attended a community meeting that highlighted the disparity in school success between children who are considered economically disadvantaged and those who were not.”
Miss B saw the same disparity play out in her classroom. Recognized as a Distinguished Educator by the Florida Department of Education, Miss B has taught children in the Indian River County School district for the past 17 years.
“It was easy to see first-hand, that children living in deep pockets of generational poverty in Indian River County – where we have been blessed with a wealth of resources – were performing at much lower rates than their peers. However, I had hope,” says Miss B. “I believed and continue to believe, that if we provide these students with the time, support, and resources they need, they will be successful”.
By 2014 Miss B’s Learning Bee’s was operating as a 501(c)3 non-profit, had assisted more than 75 children and people began to realize that the data told an amazing story. An astounding 98% of the students in the program experienced increased scores in their school performance. Even better, the students who received the academic support they needed, were continuing to succeed in school.
Miss B found that many children struggling in school and living in low-income households were missing fundamental building blocks needed for them to move ahead and succeed with the next level of work. When she ensured that the students mastered these missing pieces, they began to succeed.
“We started by helping children reach proficiency in reading, math, and science by providing academic enrichment and learning opportunities beyond the school day.” Says Miss B.
Each student works one on one with a certified/ retired teacher to help close the gaps in their academic foundation. A sophisticated online learning system identifies the gaps and creates Individual Actions Plans for each student. Each action plan is unique and specific to the child’s needs. New this year, Miss B’s will collaborate with a Behavior Analyst to improve student behaviors which get in the way of their learning.
“But this alone was not the secret to our success,” Miss B maintains.
“Where we operate is equally important. Transportation is a big barrier, so we opened neighborhood hubs.”
“And children can’t concentrate if they are worried about when they will get their next meal. Food insecurity is also a big issue, so we ensure that all students in the program are fed healthy food consisting of a wholesome snack and bottled water or nutritious juice before academic enrichment. Before they leave for home, they receive a substantial dinner.”
“There is no charge to our students or their families. We have worked to ensure that funds are raised to allow each family access regardless of their ability to pay the bill. Most children enrolled in the program have parents or guardians who work long hours at low-paying jobs and their role is to partner with us in supporting their child’s learning.”
“Advocacy is important, and we teach parents how to work with their child’s teacher to develop a relationship that supports the child’s educational achievement.”
Since its founding, Miss Bee’s Learning Bees has experienced a dramatic uptick in applications for enrollment and currently has a wait list.
For every gift or sponsorship of $6,500.00, another child in Indian River County will be given what they need to succeed in school and potentially change their family legacy from one of poverty to one of self-sufficiency.