An after school program boosts fitness and academics, and it is all due to the collaboration of a veteran teacher and a local personal trainer.
Spring Valley High School English teacher Marc Hoberman says he along with his friend and personal trainer, Steve Eckert, started the program in response to the increasing budget struggles of local schools, particularly in the East Ramapo district.
Hoberman, an Airmont resident, has taught in East Ramapo for most of his three-decade career and previously taught in Bronx public schools. He also runs a private tutoring service called Grade Success Education.
Eckert, a former U.S. Marine who lives in Pomona, owns Peak Physique training in Spring Valley.
The men became friendly over the years as Hoberman attended Eckert’s boxing classes. When East Ramapo students lost some academic support services and extracurricular programs this school year, Hoberman pitched the tutoring /fitness idea to Eckert, hoping it would help fill the void.
After School Program a Growing Need
“The need to support students outside the classroom has grown because the curriculum, I think, is more challenging than it was when I began in East Ramapo,” Hoberman said. Because of the state’s new Common Core standards, “now it’s a different animal,” he said.
The sessions started in October and were aimed at students from the town of Ramapo, but all Rockland County students in grades one to six are welcome. Sessions run from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. Saturdays at Eckert’s training center at the 230 W. Route 59 shopping plaza.
Hoberman, along with other teachers and honors students, tutors pupils in math, reading and writing for 45 minutes. After they tackle worksheets geared toward their reading or math level, they clear the tables and chairs out of the way, and Eckert leads them in a 45-minute boot camp or boxing session.
The physical and mental components build self-esteem and teamwork skills, and the less formal environment could ease the pressure students may face when attempting a tough assignment in their normal classroom setting, Hoberman said.