W.Va. After-school Programs To Serve As National Models

Posted: June 14, 2006
CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ Three 21st Century Community Learning Center programs have been chosen as examples of successful operations and will get the chance to tell their peers the secrets of their success during a national conference this summer.  

The programs are three of 72 that will be presented at the 21st Century Community Learning Centers 2006 Summer Institute July 10-12 in San Diego.  

“We know that after-school programs improve student achievement in the classroom,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “These programs are models that can be replicated in nearly any community. They should be proud of their accomplishments.”  

The West Virginia Department of Education and Regional Education Service Agency VII will present a newly implemented local peer observation process that’s being used statewide. Instead of paying for costly outside reviews, this economical model allows 21st Century Community Learning Centers to evaluate each other using a standardized list of requirements and goals.  

“We’re the only ones in the country to develop something like this,” said Marianne Sonnefeld with the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Federal Programs and Accountability. “It not only improves communication between the centers, but it also allows directors to learn from each other.”  

The Afterschool Explorers Program in Kingwood also will outline its better readers program, while PATCH 21st Century Community Learning Center in Spencer also will describe its entrepreneurial training program.  

“For many children in rural West Virginia who want to live where they grew up, they have to find alternative ways to earn a living,” said Robin Whiting, assistant director of PATCH. “In today’s economy, they can’t rely on big business. But they can learn a trade or a craft and open their own business. We try to teach children they have a choice.”  

The Afterschool Explorers program targets children who are poor readers and at-risk for reading failure and gives them the additional help they need. It works in conjunction with schools to help identify children with learning disabilities and provide early intervention.  

“The connection with the school day makes our program special,” said Lanai Jennings, Afterschool Explorers Coordinator. “Being on the same page as the schools is the key to student success.”  

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers assist students, particularly in high poverty schools, who need help meeting standards in the core content areas such as reading, math and science. They also help families of these students who need literacy and related educational development.  

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