At Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring Association (RSTTA), students take the skills they learn on the courts—how to use teamwork, how to use discipline and how to focus—and apply them to the classroom. The physical activity also helps them stay healthy and active, which in turn helps them perform better academically.
“When children are able to exercise and then come do academics, it really helps them perform much better because that frontal lobe is all charged up so they can focus and put more attention into their school work,” said Marianne Olmstead, Program Manager for Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring. “The exercise part is really important for them to perform well in the classrooms.”
For nearly 40 years, Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring has been using tennis as a way to get kids engaged, keep them healthy and teach them about life skills, and that philosophy is carried into the classroom with educational enrichment activities.
This year, through a partnership with Tower Hill School, Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring has been able to take that mission even further.
Rodney Street Tennis has been doing summer camps since the organization started, but for the past few years the kids spent the mornings at the Rockford Park courts and were then bused to the RSTTA office downtown. This year, students spend the entire day at Tower Hill, where they have more space and are able to break into small groups and work on age-specific programming.
“Here having everything very centrally located to each other, like the classrooms, the cafeteria below, and of course the tennis courts are right out back, has made a huge difference,” Olmstead said.
It’s also made a big difference for the youngest kids, who in previous years have played on the baseball fields using temporary nets. This year, they’re able to play on the actual courts, which Olmstead said makes them feel like professionals.
The partnership has benefitted Tower Hill as well. Over the past few weeks, Tower Hill kids have gotten to know the kids from Rodney Street during Before Care.
“I think it’s really nice for our kids, no matter where they come from, to come here for camp and be able to get a wider view of the city of Wilmington,” said Sharon Reynolds, Director of Summer Programs for Tower Hill School. “It’s a partnership that has shown that kids, no matter where they are, are kids. While we see that there are economic differences, kids don’t see that. They're just happy to be kids.”
It’s also a program that just made sense.
“Rodney Street has such a wonderful reputation for the work they do in both tennis and academics, and it was a partnership that seemed to be made for us and for them,” Reynolds said. “And we’re lucky enough to have these wonderful resources that we can share.”
Through the partnership, Tower Hill students are also given the opportunity to tutor. Jasmine Minhas ‘18, Kirit Minhas ‘20, Malcolm Johnson ‘18 and William Schlerf ‘20 all volunteer as tutors.
“I think the most exciting part about working with kids is forming those relationships, so they get to understand and really get to know some of these kids,” said Kim Paymaster, Executive Director of Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring. “You see yourself making a difference for a kid and that is something amazing. They get to see how they’re impacting them every day.”