The Mega-Genius Supply Store and IQ Headquarters re-opened Monday, kicking off a new year of tutoring and educational services with an upgraded look, a growing staff and more events and outreach in the works.
Funded through the Park City Performing Arts Center, Mega-Genius is a local program that offers free one-on-one literacy tutoring to students ranging from first grade through high school. Whether it's a big project a student needs help with, continual tutoring on a particular subject or even just a space to hang out and play a board game, students are invited to drop in.
"There is a fresh energy and all these little pockets of learning spaces, and we want to see kids feeling inspired and getting creative," said Jaimie Atlas, the Mega-Genius Director of Special Programs and Events. " We want this to be a kids' space. It's very comfortable."
The newly renovated center is a cross between Hogwarts and Einstein, said Executive Director and Mega-Genius Curator Teri Orr. Velvet curtains separate the space into little nooks and rooms where students can gather. The brightly colored walls are decked in vintage window panes and bicycle gears. A chess board stands in the corner. Books are crammed into brimming shelves.
It is a space, Orr said, she hopes to see students relax in.
"We have kids who have been with us since the beginning," she said. "We have kids that come when they have a project they need to get completed and they need that extra push. We have some kids who come here and use this time as a study hall.
"We know that when kids get attention from an adult who isn't a parent or teacher, that can have a great impact," Orr added. "It's a place that's not school or home where someone is encouraging them in a way they may not be able to get in a busy classroom or from a parent."
Orr remembers one who came in as an underperforming student. Before long, he was at the top of his class and even started learning guitar with the help of a volunteer tutor.
"His parents told us that the time he spent here helped him not only focus but feel confident in class," Orr said.
In the past, the center has offered workshops and special lectures to children. Last year, students deconstructed and rebuilt a computer hard drive and a boom box. The center has always tried to host author lectures with side projects such as creative writing workshops. Even reading groups have formed under the nonprofit, including the most recent event where students who finished the book Hugo were invited to see the movie in theaters.
"It is meant to be fun, to be hands-on education," Atlas said. "And we're excited to build on that."
Mega-Genius plans to host a community open house event where locals those with and without children can come see the renovations, learn more about the center itself and hear about upcoming project and events. The event is scheduled Oct. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Upcoming training for tutors will be held on Oct. 4 and 25 for both returning and new volunteers. For more information visit http://ecclescenter.org or call Ann Johnson at 435-655-8252.