A Tupelo-based organization is helping international student academically

El Centro has been tutoring students since 2006.

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) –

Each year, more families are moving to Mississippi.

A Tupelo-based organization called El Centro is helping students in language transition.

Since 2006, Leticia Gassaway, a Chairwoman for the non-profit organization El Centro, has been helping international students academically. She said it’s important that people help young students in language transition.

“Our main purpose is has been to assist, primarily the Hispanic community, but really anybody coming to Tupelo. It doesn’t have to be Hispanic, we are able to help anybody who comes to the community but mainly we help with after-school homework,” Gassaway said.

Gassaway said the majority of the students they tutor are U.S. citizens. However, some students still need extra help. The Director of El Centro, Allen Bradford, said the pandemic made it more clear than ever.

“We’ve been really limited in what we could do. We do after-school tutoring. We were able to continue with masking and with online things but definitely, the numbers have more than doubled this year with the kids that are coming in and we’ve seen there’s a lot of gaps educationally, academically with our kids because they were online last year and so a lot of things fell behind and they didn’t know. So, they’re coming to us to get help,” Bradford said.

With Hispanics making up the third largest ethnic group in the city of Tupelo, Bradford said organizations like El Centro are essential to community development.

“My family lived overseas for several years and we learned Spanish when we were there and I loved being in that culture and I love that we have Hispanic culture here in Tupelo. And I’d love for other people to know how wonderful it is too. So I was excited to be able to be part of a group that is promoting Hispanic culture from within and also from without to get Tupelo to know,” Bradford said.

Gassaway said groups like El Centro can also help non-native English speakers connect with people like them who also need help.

“It’s not so much that resources aren’t available for all students but it’s, a lot of families feel more connected to people who look like them, people that talk like them and it gives them comfort that may not feel with just anybody else,” Gassaway said.

To get involved with El Centro as a tutor or a student, visit their Facebook Page or contact them though United Way.

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