A skeleton of possibility sits up a flight of stairs in a small house off of Perry Street on N Montgomery Street. The area has five empty rooms, stripped down to their bare bones, but Lawrence M. Boyd the third doesn’t see that. He sees a classroom full of students, an afterschool program with board games and cards, and a summer camp with camp counselors in homemade masks. He sits at the fold-up table as he discusses his dream.
“Six years ago, in May, (my wife and I) asked ourselves, hey, who else is in our situation who may need some summer camp care at an affordable rate?” Boyd said. That was when The Generation Learning Center was incepted. “To our surprise, we thought maybe 10 to 15 people would sign up being so late in the camp season. We ended up serving 47 children that first year,” Boyd added. “Since then, the center has evolved to service children throughout Trenton. The top floor is still being designed and the bottom floor is outfitted with a recreation room and two classrooms.”
The program would begin to expand its wings in January of 2020, but when March roared in, the Learning Center changed like everything else in the world. The summer camp continued, but September of 2020 brought a whole new challenge.
“We didn’t anticipate (COVID-19) to go into another school year. So I give (myself) a day or two just to talk to the staff, and see how we can brainstorm to create a suitable program,” Boyd said. The learning center developed a COVID program opening its doors to help parents have a place for their kids to go while they were at work and have place for kids keep on a routine during virtual learning.
“I was thinking maybe September. September turned into December, December turned into June,” Boyd said, “We had students in our building from two and a half all the way up to some college students doing virtual lessons here in our building the whole school year.”
Like many other public places, to enter, you must go through a checklist of procedures, including temperature checks, mask checks, and liberally soaking your hands with hand sanitizer. The learning center currently helps over 30 different children housing them in desks for them to sit in and areas for them to play outside.
Donna Jenkins, a teacher at the learning center, adds that in the beginning, it was hard for students to stay seated, stay focused, and understand what was happening. “They were used to being inside the school. We had to educate them about the pandemic, what was the real danger and reason why they had to go to virtual,” said Jankins.
As soon as that learning curve was over, Trenton students were ready and eager to learn in their new space. “As soon as you know, they got comfortable…we still have to monitor them… but that gave them more opportunities to learn more about their computers,” Jenkins added.
The Generation Learning Center offers a space for students to get into a routine and establish good learning habits during the pandemic. Boyd explained that the entire project was based on and inspired by his grandmother. “Our storyline is based on her house, their house because whatever you needed growing up, you could get around my house. If you need a babysitter, a meal, some advice, a place to live, to borrow some money, you know, whatever the case, you can go to grandma’s house, grandpa’s house, and get those resources,” Boyd said.
With Trenton schools going online until the 17th, The Generation Learning Center is offering its space to parents in need. For more information Call Lawrence Boyd at (609) 638-9097 for more information.