HAMLET — Assisting teachers. Translations and interpretations. Tutoring. Counseling. Orientation. Training. Teaching.
These are the skills Orlando Molina has provided for Richmond Community College and Richmond County Schools for more than 10 years. And if all goes well during a public hearing at Hamlet City Hall June 9, he and his wife, Monica Molina, will transform a property on U.S. 74 East currently zoned residential into a new venture designed to reach beyond the walls of area schools and offer services to all residents of Richmond County.
“It’s a multi-service business and it’s not going to be strictly called a school,” Molina said. “We want to provide translations, interpretations, English and Spanish classes and tutoring not just to Hispanics but to everybody in general. We can cover Richmond County and work with the community. We already work with RCC and the school system. My wife is a teacher for Richmond County Schools, so we know what they need, and with the experiences and gifts that we have, we can provide those needs.”
The idea, Molina said, is to integrate people who may not be aware of the resources available to them to help them become immersed in society. He said he wants to integrate people “to become successful citizens to the benefit of the entire community.”
“We can connect them with RCC and others, too,” he said. “We don’t want to disconnect from the public school system but as we continue to work with them, we can provide children and adults all the resources they need to be integrated productively into the community.”
One of the benefits of the type of resource center the Molinas want to open is the provision of education to much smaller groups of students than the often crowded classrooms of their primary sources of education.
“Our goal is to provide small groups of students, not a large number,” he said. “We have in mind to start a group of basic classes, progress through intermediate and on to advanced classes whether Spanish or English.”
Molina said from the very first meeting with Hamlet and Richmond County officials, he has received immense support and encouragement to transform the idea into a reality.
“My wife and I have worked with teachers and the public consistently, and worked for RCC and in the school system and we have seen how it works,” he said. “They want to see all those students in a better place, ready not just for high school but also for college and universities. Like us, this community understands that education is the key to progress and the way for people to have a better future for their children.”
Molina said the project will be an expensive one to start, but he feels confident about a number of options available to him and his wife.
“It will cost a lot of money,” he said. “We were thinking to renovate a small, little house we have in Hamlet, but under code, we cannot use it for that. We can use it for an office, but lot No. 2 — the place we want to use as the business — our plan is to bring a modular building through the school system, and we have other options as well.”
Molina said in the beginning, he and his wife will run the center.
“Later, we will keep adding people we know from the community. Volunteers would be excellent too, perhaps in trade for classes,” he said.
Although classes in English and Spanish and tutoring will be available, Molina wants to emphasize that it is not a school he wishes to open.
“It’s a multi-service project, as we said to the city of Hamlet and Richmond County,” he explained. “And it is not addressed only to Hispanics, but the people in general. To everyone. One thing we learned this year through different school systems, when parents work at home with their children before they start Pre-K, they have much better results. But when parents start to help their children once Pre-K has begun, we can offer those parents the resources they need to help and then from there to the higher grades. We give them the strong foundation and the confidence they need to help their children succeed.”
The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. June 9 in the council chambers at Hamlet City Hall on 201 Main St.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.