LAURINBURG — Scotland football coach Richard Bailey never wants any of his players to be held back from playing college football because of low grades or test scores.
That’s where Jeanette Herlocker comes in.
Herlocker, the owner of The Help Line tutoring service in Laurinburg, helps athletes at Scotland improve their academic performance.
The Help Line stands for Handling Educational and Learning Progress. Herlocker, a Laurinburg native, opened the business in 2011.
Herlocker said the business was a necessity for the area.
“I just decided that Scotland County desperately needed this service,” Herlocker said. “I knew it would be a fairly easy thing for me to pull off because I’ve taught so many different things and I have several different certifications.”
When Help Line opened for business in an upstairs suite at 127 Fairley St., Herlocker said it took a while to generate a steady flow of clients. But once word spread about the tutoring service, interest quickly started to develop.
“It was a slow initial start, but I kind of expected that,” Herlocker said. “After about the first nine months, really it was just word of mouth, and we’ve grown every single year. I expect that we’ll continue to grow.”
In 2015, The Help Line moved to the ground floor of the same building. That move allowed the business to expand from three rooms to six.
“We’ve got five classrooms, and then the office and the waiting area,” Herlocker said.
Herlocker employs five other teachers. Most of them teach at local schools during the day and work at The Help Line in the afternoon.
“I have people who are specialists in different areas coming in,” Herlocker said. “I have someone I can call for physics or chemistry, if I have that call. Mostly our calls are math and reading, or SAT and ACT.”
The tutoring service averages approximately 35 appointments per week. Herlocker said The Help Line brings in people from a variety of age ranges – some clients are as young as 5 years old.
Herlocker’s oldest student was a 62-year-old woman working on obtaining her GED.
Most of the clients are somewhere between first grade and 12th grade.
Some of those students are athletes at Scotland. Each season, Herlocker tutors around five football players.
To accommodate the players’ busy schedules during the season, she meets them at the high school.
“If they have a P.E. or weightlifting, coach can give me permission to get them out of that, or set it up that way,” Herlocker said.
Bailey said it is worthwhile to make those accommodations.
“She’s done a lot to help get our kids qualified,” Bailey said. “She’s come out here and done the whole class. She did sessions with the entire junior class, let’s say. She’s done that, but she’s also taken a few guys that we targeted, knowing they’d be college football players. She’s done a good job of getting them qualified.”
For some of the athletes, getting tutored is a challenging process at first.
“Some, at the beginning, are a little frustrated, thinking they can’t do it,” Herlocker said. “They know they’re athletes, but they haven’t shown themselves they can be good students yet.
“Most of the time, they change their mind by the time we get through with them,” she added.
Herlocker said her goal is for all of her clients to have access to The Help Line’s services, regardless of their ability to pay.
That sense of generosity translates over to her work with the football team.
“She’s done some of it out of the kindness of her heart,” Bailey said. “Others, we’ve had our FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) or our booster club help pay for the tutoring. But she’s really been very generous with a lot of pro bono and not charging us a whole lot.”
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.