Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Clay Trying To Expand Its Before/After School Programs

The Clay County Schools want to extend the system’s grant for 21st Century Community Learning Centers to include both Celina K-8 and Hermitage Springs School.

Supervisor of Instruction Misty Strong said the renewal process is underway. The program targets high-need communities to provide before and after school enrichment, tutoring, and remediation.

“We hope, to provide a variety of experiences for our students who attend,” Strong said. “And part of that is just the academics. But also so much more is the enrichment piece where we dive into leadership, character building, community awareness, as well as drug and alcohol prevention, community resources, and also physical and mental health.”

Strong said the process is a competitive grant application, funded by the US Department of Education. The “Every Student Succeeds Act” focuses on core content areas.

Because Clay County is economically-distressed, Strong said parents sometimes cannot provide the same level of support to their children in terms of helping with homework or addressing problems. Strong said this makes the before and after school program a big need.

“We have several parents that have odd work hours,” Strong said. “And so because they are leaving the county to seek employment, that prevents them from being at home or being able to pick them up at school by three to 3:15. And so this gives those students a snack every afternoon, like I said, physical, mental health, academic supports. And so it also serves those early riser parents who may be leaving home to travel for work. And so having that extra hour each morning of tutoring and enrichment helps that parent as well just sustain their employment and get their child to school.”

Strong said the small groups in the program also provide extra benefit to the students, by allowing instructions to really differentiate the needs of each student. Strong said that includes both academic progress and with issues of just growing up.

“We want to address the whole picture of each individual student and so meeting them where they are and then building them up to grow them in every way,” Strong said. “Basically, it’s not just to get them through this, whatever grade of school that they’re in, but to prepare them for success in the future, wherever that might take them.”

The system expects to hear about its application by July. Strong said they will keep parents informed, especially those at Hermitage Springs if they are able to expand the program there.

“We will begin programming in August and September, and we hope to carry it for the entire year,” Strong said. “More than that, it’s just to be aware that when the application comes out, we do prioritize those seats based on academic need, and then we do our best to fill all of our groups and maintain high attendance.”

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