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Thursday, June 04 2020

By: Mike Ferguson. Contributing Writer.

Lakeland - The COVID-19 pandemic has at least temporarily changed life for many, but a Polk County nonprofit is determined to make sure the learning continues.

The Learning Resource Center (LRC) of Polk County has spent the last 45 years catering to the educational needs of children from as young as five to adults. The nonprofit works with local public and private schools, colleges and has a wide variety of programs to go along with about 400 total tutors.

“We usually have a very robust and far-reaching summer program,” said Pamela Craven, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We have three different levels of study skills courses we usually run. We’re going to be monitoring what local and state governments do, but we’re hoping to have them again.”


For high school students, the Get REAL! Program teaches a variety of skills for high school students, including on-the-job training, resume writing, time management, and practice interviews. One of the newer programs, Get REAL! works in flux with other nonprofits. Craven said she hopes that it can begin in July.


Also on the slate for July is “Camp READY!”. While Get REAL caters to high school students, Camp READY! is a four-week kindergarten preparedness class.

“This is not only to get them ready with reading skills but social skills,” Craven said of the program. “A lot of times, the vocabulary is just not there.”

If possible, Camp READY! will take place in person and will be available at 10 locations across Polk County. There are four Lakeland sites as well as sites in Bartow, Fort Meade, Haines City, Lake Wales, Mulberry, and Winter Haven. Sites are funded by the United Way of Central Florida and GiveWell Foundation.

Although the course will go on as planned in person, Craven noted that facilitators will make sure that COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control are met. That includes potentially wearing masks, social distancing, temperature taking, proper sanitation, and limiting movement when possible. There is a $25 fee, but it can be waived based on attendance and other factors.


For Winter Haven students, a Summer Success Camp will be hosted in partnership with the Public Education Partnership (PEP) Center. The program catering to students from first through sixth grades is online and will focus on math, reading, and science. It lasts from June 1 through July 23.

LRC will be offering its Super Summer Success program for students who have completed grades from kindergarten through fifth. The online program will still be hands-on. It aims to improve reading and math skills.

For students with hopes of attending college, Craven said LRC will be offering SAT and ACT prep courses remotely. Programs for ESE and Title I students can also be done remotely, she said.

“We’re using the same models that have proven successful before,” Craven said. “The only difference is they’re online.”

The “Study Habits of Successful Students” courses are planned to take place in person, Craven said but could be moved online if necessary. The week-long course encompasses skills from setting goals, thinking critically and strategies for test-taking. Craven said there will be courses offered for elementary, middle and high school students.

“If we have setbacks, we know parents won’t be wanting their kids to meet in person,” Craven said. “This is something we could definitely do online.”


There are fees associated with most courses, but some can be waived. For more information, visit LRC online at or call 863-688-9477. Information is also posted on the nonprofit’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Most programs are underwritten with some other type of funding,” Craven said. “We’re pleased to work with and have support from other nonprofits.”

The Learning Resource Center of Polk County, Inc. (LRC) was founded by the Junior League of Greater Lakeland, Inc. in 1975 to help students by providing personalized supplemental education programs and consulting services for parents. At that time it was known as the Learning Disabilities Center and its primary purpose was to serve students with specific learning disabilities and provide support for their parents. The name changed in 1977 as programs for the learning disabled grew in the public school system and LRC expanded its services to help all students maximize their learning potential.

From its humble beginnings as a small volunteer group working in borrowed space to today, LRC has over 500 certified teachers who provide countywide services to over 4,000 students ages five through adult.

About the Author: Mike Ferguson currently serves as the public information officer at the Haines City Police Department. Mike earned his bachelor's degree from Florida State University in 2009. Mike and his wife Jennifer live in Davenport, Florida with their two children.

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