Study House

April 26, 2015

The following article appears in the April/May 2015 issue of Athletic Management.

Sometimes, all it takes is one person. At Herndon (Va.) High School, that individual is veteran Head Boys’ Basketball Coach and Physical Education Teacher Gary Hall, who decided to turn his frustration over academically ineligible athletes into something positive.

“I was watching a boys’ soccer match last spring and realized I have kids in my P.E. classes who are good enough to be part of the team but were not on the field,” says Hall. “For many of them it’s due to academics, so my wife and I decided to open our house as a study hall—to help some of these athletes improve their grades and be able to play.”

Now, one night each week, 25 to 30 male student-athletes bring their homework to Hall’s house. Free from the bustle of busy, co-ed classrooms, they are provided with extra help and a nutritious meal, along with a family atmosphere.

“Teachers email me a list of all homework, upcoming tests, and any missing assignments,” Hall says. “I print everything out and put it in each student’s folder. We have dinner and then from 8 to 9:30, they do their work. We’re giving them our time, so we ask them to give their best effort, and they do.”

As word about the study hall has spread, community members and businesses have started donating food and providing academic resources. “The teachers sometimes volunteer their time, and a neighbor has hired a math tutor to come every week,” Hall says.

After studying, the boys are invited to enjoy free time in the Halls’ recreation room. “Some nights, they don’t want to leave, and it feels like we have 30 adopted sons,” Hall says.

Most importantly, the study hall relays to the students that someone cares about their schoolwork. “Recently, one of the guys sent me a text with a picture of his history test that showed a score of 90,” Hall says. “There’s really nothing better than that.”

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