Tuesday, December 6, 2016

After School Program Impacts Students, Volunteers and the Community

The Greenville City Schools bus pulls up in front of the Edison State Community College Darke County Campus. The door opens and, one-by-one, kindergarten through fourth-grade students climb off the bus and head inside where volunteers are waiting for them.

Some days there will be 25-30 students, others nearly 40. Students from South School or other districts are brought to the campus by parents.

Ten weeks into Empowering Darke County Youth’s After School Program (ASP) enrollment remains relatively stable at 57 students. Since some arrive daily while others are only there one to four days a week, program reach is based upon contact hours. Each arrival on campus, whether for one hour or two, counts as one contact hour. At the end of ten weeks, the ASP had recorded 1,439 contact hours.

For the first hour or so, students receive help with homework, one-on-one tutoring where needed, math skills, and word problems or reading. When all homework or other required work is done, students watch a movie, draw or color. Snacks are provided daily.

Volunteers have noted the successes of their efforts. Some ASP students resisted working in the beginning, but most have become accustomed to the schedule and what is expected of them.

As one Edison State volunteer, Courtney Toops, put it, “if you can get some of these kids to sit long enough to read a book out loud and interact with you, you can accomplish anything.”

Edison State volunteers Seth Phillippi and Jim Kildow noted some of the challenges.

“There was this kindergartner that didn’t want to go over his alphabet with flash cards,” Phillippi said. “I laid all the cards out and asked him who can find the letter the fastest. After that, he was all for finding his letters. He even wanted me to make flash cards for him to take home.”

Kildow noted the practical side of his Edison State Fundamentals of Communication class. “How do you explain four plus five to a kid who thinks four plus five equals 45?” he asked. “A lot of effort goes into being brief, clear, and earning respect. These fundamentals are communications on the most elementary level. If you’re not a good communicator, you won’t get through to them. They won’t get work done. You either adapt your communications skills, or you fail to help them.”

Many students saw the success of their efforts through first quarter report cards. Most students showed progress, some on Merit or Honor rolls, others proudly toting A’s and B’s.

Edison State volunteer Jacob Bradfield feels a sense of accomplishment working with the children. “I have seen growth not only in their school work but also in their behavior,” he said. “The kids’ faces light up when they get an answer right and this makes them more determined to work hard.”

While most volunteers saw the immediate value of the program, Edison State volunteer Scout Meyer envisioned something more.

“I feel this program benefits the community as well as the families in it,” she said. “These children are the future and in order to function as members of the community, they need to learn what they can now.”

“I think this program is great and effective in what it does for everyone in it and the surrounding communities,” she added. “I hope this program grows and influences more and more areas around the world, helping to educate children everywhere. While it is still pretty small now, I think it has huge potential to make a difference in everyone’s lives.”

For more information, contact Empowering Darke County Youth at empoweringdarkecountyyouth@gmail.com or call Edison State Darke County Campus at 937-548-5546.

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