After-school program hits the mark in Kotzebue
The computer screen came to life Thursday in Kotzebue revealing 13 eager students sitting neatly at their desks. The students, aged 6 and 7, waved and then waited.
"They're looking at you on a SMART Board," said Janice Hadley, the lead teacher for the afterschool K-2 program at June Nelson Elementary School.
As the students took turns answering questions about the program, others simply waved occasionally. Some got distracted, but the general consensus was obvious. The program, which focuses on literacy, cultural awareness and physical activity, is a hit.
The K-2 After-School Club started in October, 2012, and is part of a five-year grant that was awarded to the Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC), which partnered with June Nelson Elementary. The grant came from 21st Century Community Learning Center.
When the students arrive, after their regular school day, they get some outdoor time, then a snack, then journaling, homework, story time and spelling. The activities change from day to day with the exception of outside time and the snack.
"We hope the increased benefits will be in literacy, awareness of the culture, increased exposure to the MAPs testing process and items tested, and increased physical activity," Hadley said.
This is Hadley's second year with the program and her first stint as lead teacher. She has attended state and national conferences as part of the program, she said. Overall, there are 60 students from kindergarten through second grade in the club.
"I think the attributes are an increased eagerness to be at school, being a part of something, and the recognitions that come with it," she said.
Back in the classroom, the students talked about their favorite parts of the afterschool program.
Computers and iPads were a favorite for many. Playing educational games and creating various works were at the top of the list for student Bob Henry. Brook Cain also liked working on the computers the best, while she found the physical education component the most challenging.
Drawing houses was also high atop the list of challenges for some students.
"Carpool Tag! With a hula-hoop!" said Gage Pendergrass when asked his favorite part of the program.
The students learn Eskimo dancing as part of their physical education class and spend a large chunk of time reading seasonal and culturally relevant books.
The program also features Fun Fridays and Super Saturdays where special guests are invited in to talk with the students about various events or activities.
Parental involvement is encouraged in the program at any time through ideas, skills and knowledge with parents welcome in the classroom and on field trips. Along with parent and guardian support, the club encourages community-wide involvement so that students get an early sense of where they live and how they fit in to their community.
"As partners with the NWABSD, SERRC supports the district's strategic plan, which focuses on supporting high quality early childhood programs, creating a balance between academics, fine arts, sports and other activities, modeling positive behaviors and encouraging parents to support their child's education," read the program's mission statement. "We believe that working together teachers, parents and the community can help develop successful, happy and healthy children."