What We Do
Gloria Matlock’s version of a one-room schoolhouse, open to children grades K-12, encourages older children to mentor younger ones. Gloria and her team of volunteers create a safe learning community that models respect and a recognition of students’ strengths. Students learn healthy avenues for managing their feelings, and gain pride in who they are and where they come from. Students learn that they have a right to be respected and cared for, to receive a good education, to be treated fairly regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, or socioeconomic class, and to have access to resources to realize their potential. At the same time, they learn that responsibilities go with those rights. The importance of interdependence, caring for each other, and caring for the earth are values woven into the fabric of Twice As Smart’s curriculum.
In addition to fostering literacy and math skills, Twice As Smart is committed to providing its students with pathways to success. This includes exposing the children to a world beyond public housing by connecting students with role models, new areas of learning, avenues for self-expression, and opportunities to experience themselves as valued members of their community, while challenging them to dream big.
Field trips and guest speakers open new worlds of possibilities. A local artist showed them how to turn wood chips, plastic bottle caps, pieces of cloth, and other found objects into artistic creations. On a museum field trip, students viewed an exhibit showcasing the Civil Rights movement as told through picture books. Visits to local college campuses communicate the message that, “This can be yours too.”
Twice As Smart’s curriculum connects literature, music, art, and math with the children’s lived experiences. History lessons encompass students’ racial and ethnic histories. For a unit about homelessness, refugees, and immigrants, the students learned songs that captured these experiences in the composers’ native languages. The students have performed some of these songs in a program they created entitled, “Where is the Kindness: Homelessness, Migration, and Immigration.” They read poetry and stories written by BIPOC, and also wrote a play in which each student took on the role of a prominent Black or Brown person in history, entitled, “The People That Inspire Us.” Such experiences create an atmosphere of inclusivity, as well as empathy.
Twice As Smart has created an educational fund for each participant. Each student is monetarily rewarded for positive participation each week with $5.00 deposited and invested into the fund. When each child turns 18 and has completed high school, they will develop an educational plan in order to obtain their funds. This plan motivates the children to work harder and provides an opportunity to learn about savings and higher education.