Stories from the Field
At the Ontario Middle School Success
afterschool program in Ontario, Oregon, students learn about literacy by writing and presenting their own works. The program consists of a summer program and the afterschool program held during the school year. Literacy activities include journaling, scrapbooking, and writing poetry.
Reaching program goals depends on starting the school year out right, and professional development is no exception. At the Bladen County 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) afterschool program, the school year begins with training for new and returning staff. It includes an orientation that covers goals and expectations of the program’s grant; workshops on core content areas, curriculum goals, and lesson plans; and alignment of activities with the North Carolina state standards.
For the Russian Jack 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) in Anchorage, Alaska, communicating with the day school is a key part of afterschool homework help. The 110 students who attend the afterschool program range from kindergarten to sixth grade, and they all bring their homework with them to the afterschool program. Day school teachers provide weekly copies of homework to afterschool instructors. Younger students who do not have homework on a regular basis still have the opportunity to practice skills and reinforce learning through hands-on games and activities.
The Downtown Community Development branch of the YMCA of Greater Long Beach
operates four sites for high school afterschool programs. Among the activities offered is a program called Youth Institute, which is centered around technology. High school participants learn skills like movie making, graphic design, Web site design, and 3-D animation. “Our goal is to teach ‘real-world’ technology skills and connect those skills to academic and workforce success for young people,” says executive director Bob Cabeza.
The Sparks Program at Scott Middle School in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, has partnered with Penn State University to offer Project PA, a program promoting family nutrition and wellness. Sparks combines the research-based nutrition curriculum with embedded academics to create a dynamic program that is very popular with the community. During family events, students and their parents prepare a healthy snack or meal and then participate in some sort of physical activity. One night had a hip-hop theme; on another night students and their families danced on geo-mats, which are low-impact exercise mats.
You know you have a great afterschool science program when one thematic project teaches students about anatomy, the physics of sound, and the construction of musical instruments—all while exposing them to jazz and classical music. My House Center for Learning is a nonprofit organization that includes science activities as part of its afterschool offerings to New Orleans children. In the lesson described above, which is called “music in the air,” students listen to different types of music and are taught how to build their own musical instruments. They also learn about parts of the ear and how they hear things, the differences between pitch and sound and vibrations and frequencies, and the origins of different types of music.
is a nonprofit organization that offers free arts education to youth ages 3 through 19, particularly in underserved, low- to middle-income neighborhoods. The organization hires professional artists to work with both regular day schools and afterschool programs. As Arts Corps program director Tina LaPadula notes, many Washington elementary schools report offering little or no arts instruction, and students from low-income families have fewer opportunities for extracurricular activities.
(Students Motivated in Learning at Everhart) afterschool program in Tallahassee, Florida, is showing that there are no limits to what students can do. SMILE is a 21st Century Community Learning Center program that serves students with moderate to severe mental disabilities, many of whom have physical disabilities as well.
At the 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program in Keokuk, Iowa, relationships—both between the program and the community and between staff and students—play an important role in its success.
Like many afterschool programs, the PASS afterschool program at Lake View Middle School aligns math activities with regular school-day instruction and the corresponding standards. In the afterschool setting, however, math enrichment comes in the form of an art project or another activity where students can create something.
The Learning Academy afterschool program at Reno Valley Middle School began with a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. Two and a half years after the initial grant ended, the program is self-sustaining, has high attendance rates, and has received local and national recognition for its achievements.
Steven Villano used to hate data. As special events coordinator with the Cooperative for Afterschool Enrichment (CASE) for the Harris County Department of Education in Texas, he helps compile and use data from the monthly reports his program collects from its 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool sites.
Even the process of developing evaluation tools can involve monitoring your work and using results for continuous improvement. Just ask the team that developed the evaluation tools for the Colorado 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs). the evaluation includes progress reports to determine compliance, PPICS (the 21st CCLC Profile and Performance Information Collection System that all 21st CCLC grantees are required to complete), a quality improvement/monitoring tool, and focus groups.
When the word best
is part of your name, people expect great things from your afterschool programs. To ensure that they are living up to their name, the staff at LA’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), an afterschool enrichment program that offers out-of-school activities for elementary students at 168 sites across Los Angeles, California, have included evaluation in their program administration since the organization was created in 1988.
"One of the things that has been a great success for us is our Expo Night. Twice a year, we provide families, the staff, and the Board of Education an opportunity to witness what the students experience and learn in the literacy program." --Myrna Torres is the community school director
In the After School Learning Center (ASLC) at the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center in San Francisco, California, project-based learning is key to maintaining student interest. The program offers a menu of afterschool “clubs,” many of which are based on technology. Students have a say in what clubs the program will offer, and they are able to choose what clubs they join.
A successful partnership with a community organization can play an important role in an afterschool program. Just ask associate program director Marissa Reyes of Urban Gateways (UG), a nonprofit that plans and directs arts programs in the Chicago area.