Glendale education nonprofit Excalibur reopens for ‘COVID-19 friendly’ tutoring

Excalibur Reading Program is located at 80-17 78th Ave. in Glendale. (Photo courtesy of Excalibur)

The beginning of the school year is right around the corner and Excalibur Reading Program, a nonprofit tutoring organization based in Glendale, has reopened for in-person tutoring sessions.

Excalibur, located at 80-17 78th Ave., have been closed for in-person sessions since March. After schools closed, they adjusted to online tutoring and reduced some of their fees for families.

But now that the city is slowly reopening and school reopening plans start to take shape, they are offering their services in-person — but with some adjustments. They’ve designed their programs and space for a “COVID-19 friendly” environment.

They will be offering only two sessions with two teachers and one student at a time, with tables 8 feet apart.

All students, parents and teachers are mandated to wear masks, wash hands and make use of their table with hand sanitizers. They are asking parents to provide a notebook and pencils for their children so that there is no sharing in the room between students, but their teachers may also provide pencils.

Each teacher has a Chromebook to help students go to their school’s websites to procure assignments and aid the children in their Google Classrooms or other online materials. They will be able to print out assignments as well.

They are also offering online or hybrid tutoring, if parents want their teachers to work with their children during school hours on Zoom or Google Hangouts. If a student is in need of internet support for after school, or during online classes, their teachers can be in the office to assist them.

Each session is $40 per hour and $25 per half hour, according to their website. If interested, parents are encouraged to call their office.

Angelica Harris, founder of Excalibur and award-winning published author, said the organization was struggling to make ends meet during the months of lockdown, as their revenue was cut severely but still had rent and other bills to pay.

“After being closed for nearly four months, revenue is very low. To be able to have the donations to purchase these items helped us to reopen sooner than we thought. Thanks to so many generous people in the community, we received donations of up to $500, and with those funds we were able to purchase table shields, hand sanitizers, masks and most importantly, a CN520 Non-Contact Forehead Thermometer,” said Harris. “Every day when students come to their sessions, they will be given a ‘WELLCHECK’ by their certified teachers, before entering the room.”

Excalibur’s programs include creative writing and business, blog and essay workshops, pre-K classes, children’s readers theater, Little Pages Book Club, teen and young adult workshops, children’s and adult art classes as well as mentoring programs.

The organization is also catering to students who are having trouble with isolation, as well as parents who need assistance guiding their children through remote learning.

They have introduced a new Mental Health program, led by their new high school and college adviser Gaby Hatzopoulos and social worker Andrea LoCascio.

“The pandemic has caused much strife and confusion, and these two compassionate women are here to help our youth and their families with their much-needed mental health needs,” Harris said.

Excalibur has a team of five teachers, including Harris, who teaches creative writing; LoCascio and James De Martini, who teach English language arts; Lucy Molina, who teaches ESL; and Thomas Schirling, who teaches math; as well as Chris Fertitta who offers IT Support.

Harris wishes her and her staff can be of assistance in these extraordinary circumstances.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us so many challenges,” she said. “Thank you again for your continued trust and support of the Excalibur Reading Program. We hope to help you with this transition period of online teaching and tutoring and give to you our very best attention to your children and you.”

For more information on Excalibur’s programs, visit their website, e-mail excaliburreading@gmail.com or call their office at 347-725-4218. The program is also accepting donations.