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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – School is over and the hallways are quiet at Frances S. Tucker Elementary in Coconut Grove, but inside a couple of classrooms and on the playground, something special is happening.
For the first time, the school is hosting a free after-school program for both boys and girls. The students work on their reading, writing and math skills and then spend the other part of their afternoon taking part in sports, dancing or art projects.
CBS4 was there as program founder, Alex Pou, worked with students on their math multiplication tables.
“The idea is to minimize the free time of these students after school. This is when they get into stuff and we want to provide them with opportunities that any other kids their age would have,” he said.
Pou, a former University of Miami football player, says volunteering in the community and learning from his own mentors inspired him to work with young kids.
“Mentoring means the world to me. I had plenty of mentors growing up that helped me along with my two parents. I give them credit for the man I am nowadays,” said Pou
One of those students is 11-year old Johnny. Pou has been working with him for the last year and a half and say they are inseparable.
“Johnny was the first student at Tucker Elementary that I met. The kid is full of personality, very bright, as you can tell he needs a lot of attention and affection. We bonded right away and when I’m around here we are pretty inseparable,” said Pou.
Pou is also celebrating a new addition to the program. This fall, they added a section of the Home Team just for girls. Pou says several of the girls asked to join and he made sure to keep his promise to them.
“The top three things I try to instill in any of these kids is manners, that is number one and foremost, discipline and accountability. I make sure they understand that their behavior is a direct reflection of who they are,” said Pou.
The Home Team is currently searching for volunteer mentors. Pou believes it’s vital that people come forward and help the next generation.
“Children right now account for one-third of the population. They are 100% future, we have a lot of power of what our future looks like based on the engagement we have with these kids and the lessons that we are passing on to them.
Pou is working towards offering STEM classes in the spring. He’s hoping if students improve their science grades that can help the school retrieve its Magnet School designation.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to the Home Team you can find out more on their website at https://www.thehometeammiami.org/
And if you would like to share a story about a mentor in your life please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Cari Hernandez, Executive Producer, Special Projects