Friday, November 19, 2004

Superhero Tutors

The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company rocks.

Smartmom didn't really "get it" until she went into the wild and crazy stage-set of a store, through the door that looks like a bookshelf (the secret passage) and into the ROOM.

The ROOM is full of library tables, comfy chairs, computers, couches, books, magazines AND half a dozen volunteer TUTORS ready and willing to help kids with their HOMEWORK.

The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company is saving the world one night of homework at a time. And that's what it takes to make this world a better place. One-on-one education is happening there and that's a good thing -- it's truly awe-inspiring to see a room full of kids working extra hard on their homework. .

A little background: Dave Eggers, author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genuis," and publisher of "McSweeney's" and "The Believer," started something a few years back called 826 Valencia, a drop-in tutoring space in San Francisco, which also offers writing workshops for kids and adults.

Now, he's launched the same concept in Brooklyn's Park Slope. The store is on Fifth Avenue right next to MS 51 and near to PS 39, PS 321 and a host of other public and private schools. The address is: 372 Fifth Avenue (between 5th and 6th Streets), 718-499-9884. Find them on the web at 826nyc.org. The place is really catching on -- some afternoons it's quite crowded in there.

Here's what the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company has to say for itself:

"As the name says, we will be a supply store for superheroes in need of capes, masks, utility belts, grappling hooks, and whatever else their crime fighting tasks call for. Visitors will also be able to read books, magazines, and student publications on display or explore the mysterious contents of the store, before passing through the secret passage to the more serious activities within the tutoring center.

We offer one-on-one tutoring Sunday through Thursday, 2:30-5:30PM. Tutors are available at the lab and ready to help students with writing assignments, homework, English language learning, creative writing, and publishing projects."

And it's free. God knows how he's funding it. It's probably a combination of Eggar's money and fundraising efforts. Whatever it is, they really seem to know what they're doing -- the staff is mostly volunteer and more volunteers are needed!

This place is so spot-on when it comes to what turns kids on. After one visit to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company OSFO was thrilled "to be allowed" to do her homework there. She and Smartmom have now been twice: OSFO sits down and does her homework in a very business-like way. Thus far, she hasn't enlisted the friendly assistance of any of the tutors who drop by the table and ask, "Need any help?' Very low key, very cool. Not like parents who are such drips when it comes to helping with homework.

The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company is a dream come true for kids who need homework help, a little push, a quiet space to work in. It's truly great for those who may not have a computer at home, need to do some research, or want some expert help on a term paper.

And for parents -- it's positively HEAVEN SENT.

The special workshops for kids and adults look great too: Pop-up Books Tell Tales About You; Once Upon a Time...The End: How to Write a Really Short Story; Write Your Very Own Young Adult Novel; Comics and Cartooning (that's one for Teen Spirt and Red). These workshops fill up -- so sign up soon.

Caution: Afterward, your little OSFO may want to spend copious amounts of time exploring the store's crime fighting equipment. It's just soooooooooooo fun. But that's okay, because homework is done and the evening is wide open and freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Thank you Valencia 826 for opening a branch on Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue -- You came to the right place.

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