The after school program: Success!

New Madrid County R-1 School District received the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC) grant at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The after school program could not have come at a better time. 

We all know how devastating the closure of Noranda has been for our area. The 21CCLC grant has helped fill the increased need to provide a safe, secure, and fun after school learning program while parents commuted to new jobs or school and spent longer hours outside the home. The 21CCLC grant provided funds for the development of the “New Madrid County R-1 Learning Labs” after school program which operates four days a week for two hours. The program at New Madrid Elementary offers academic assistance the first hour and a variety of courses focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) the second hour. The students have the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities that are not afforded during the regular school day while the community partnerships provide real world career experiences. 

New Madrid Elementary has had wonderful success the first year of the program and the students have been excited to stay. The average daily attendance was approximately 90 students with 101 students who have stayed 30 days or more. New Madrid Elementary, at the time of this writing, has 256 students (K-5) enrolled therefore a 35% average daily participation rate and 39% of the student body participating 30 days or more.  The overall success has been recognized in the classroom as well. Teachers have noticed that students who participate in the program are more interested in their daily work as it relates to the after school activities and more detailed in their classroom activities. The students are excited for this program to continue and provide more opportunities for years to come. This program is a blessing to our district. 

The success of our program at New Madrid Elementary is not by chance. It was well thought out and planned months in advance, before we were notified that the district received the grant. The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP, 2008) identified that high quality after school programs make a difference in the performance of students in the classroom. The report noted that students who participate in the program increase test scores, improve self-esteem and self-confidence, and decrease at-risk behaviors. According to the Afterschool Alliance (2017), only thirty percent of families that want after school programs actually have the opportunity to attend one. The turn of the 21st century opened the eyes of many business executives and education experts about the skills that the future laborers need. The 21CCLC grant allows school districts like New Madrid County R-1 to design a program that fits the need of the community and the students combined. 

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