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Tutoring center welcomes new leader to Clackamas

Clackamas’ Neighborhood Learning Center, a nonprofit incorporated in December 2000 by Damascus couple Kitty and Enrique Castro-Leon, has entered a new chapter in its vision to provide valuable educational services to the community.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Gary Jacoby, the Neighborhood Learning Center's new executive director, works with a student during one of the organizations individualized tutoring sessions.Over the years the NLC programs have included computer classes for seniors, academic planning for students, an ombudsman role for parents dealing with the education system and free Sunday study sessions. Now the organization’s most popular program offers one-on-one tutoring sessions with a licensed teacher acting as a consultant to help students carry out their individualized programs.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Kitty and Enrique Castro-Leon are pictured in front of the Neighborhood Learning Center in Clackamas they founded.“We were looking with some consternation at all of the budget cuts, and we decided to do something about it by creating customized programs to address academic deficiencies in students who want to work hard but need a little extra guidance,” Enrique Castro-Leon said.

Kitty Castro-Leon added that, although NLC programs emphasize continuity of regular attendance over six weeks, the goal is to help students become self-sufficient so they can “hold their own” in public school districts.

In June, Sandy resident and retired teacher Gary Jacoby became executive director. A teacher in fourth through eighth grade classrooms for 23 years, Jacoby also has been a regular K-12 substitute teacher and has worked at NLC since September 2009.

“I am eager and ready to take over,” he told parents. “You should see no change in the day-to-day routine as the baton is passed. ... Kitty still wants to do the tutoring on Sundays, so she will still be available.”

Located at 15635 S.E. 114th Ave., Suite 102, NLC is open from 3 to 8 p.m. during the school year and can be reached at 503-742-1986 to schedule six-week tutoring sessions for $174. NLC had to raise its fees recently because grants dried up from the Meyer Trust and Rose E. Tucker Charitable Foundation.

However, NLC cites fees lower than comparable services and offers reduced fees on a sliding-scale basis for those families documenting financial hardship.

Enrique Castro-Leon plans to continue helping NCL as an expert in overcoming technical and financial barriers for student access to standardized test-preparation websites. He has been a software engineer at Intel Corp. since 1983, and a majority of NLC’s board members are Intel employees. Intel donated $1,910 to NLC last year as part of its program to cover employees’ volunteer time.by: FILE PHOTO - Kitty Castro-Leon, founding executive director of the Neighborhood Learning Center in Clackamas, works with former student Tracy Ha.