Richie Holmes Grant is determined to advance the educational interests of local youth, and now her mission to bring a first-class debate club to Prince George’s County has become reality.

Holmes Grant, a former constitutional law debate coach in New York and the bearer of two Columbia Law debate awards, says the club was actually the brainchild of parents that were involved in some of her other ventures, who wanted an outlet for their children.

“We were approached by several parents…and they asked us to consider starting a debate club for their students,” Holmes Grant said. Previously, we would incorporate debate in various courses that we offer and so we had experience with it as well as my personal experience coaching high school students.”

The club, which is open to students in grades four through12, is organized in three tiers — grades four to five, grades six to eight and grades nine to12. Holmes Grant admits there are few debate opportunities, especially for younger kids.

“We work with students in that age range and we see the benefits of starting early,” Holmes Grant said. “We see what that can do and the type of impact that can make.”

Holmes Grant said in the future, she’d like the students to debate other teams.

Holmes Grant, a county native, founded Innovative Study Techniques (IST) in 2003 to help improve local students’ standardized testing results. Over the years, that program has expanded to Los Angeles, Atlanta and London.

Earlier this year, she founded Generation Ed (GenEd), as a subsidiary non-profit of IST. The goal of GenEd is to encourage parents to be hands-on with their children’s education. It is under this program that the debate club was created.

“We really wanted to equip parents with the tools they need to be effective teachers,” Holmes Grant said. “A lot of what we do with the students is dependent on the buy-in of the parents; how much the parents are involved and how much the parents understood about the process.

“We discovered that there’s a void,” she continued. “The message is parents should be involved, but a lot of times parents don’t know how to be involved as effectively as they can.”

In addition to those duties, Holmes Grant was also appointed to Maryland’s Small Business Commission by Gov. Martin O’Malley and is education policy advisor to Del. Jay Walker, D.-Dist. 26.

Registration for the debate club is ongoing and open to students from all local jurisdictions. There is no fee for joining, but Holmes Grant wants to select just 25 students for the club. Interested parents and students can log onto InnovativeTestPrep.com for more information.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO