Reporter's note: This is the first in a two-part series on a recent grant the Thayer School System received to fund a community learning center.
THAYER -- On Feb. 9 the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the request for funding made by the Thayer R-2 school system to establish a 21st Century Community Learning Center.
According to Thayer High School Principal Kevin Hedden, community residents will be called on to serve as tutors, teachers and volunteers to ensure the success of the project.
"The Thayer School System will direct the activities of the center, with an emphasis on improving the district Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing scores in reading and math. An advisory board consisting of members of local organizations and businesses will oversee this project by evaluating effectiveness for all community groups involved," the principal said. He added that five year funding for the project will total over $650,000.
Hedden said the purpose of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Grant is to establish or expand activities in community learning centers that: 1) Provide opportunities for academic enrichment including tutorial services to help students, particularly students who attend low-performance schools, to meet state and local student academic achievement standards in core academic subjects such as reading and math; 2) Offer students a broad array of additional service programs and activities such as:
* Youth development.
* Drug and violence prevention programs.
* Art, music and recreation programs.
* Technology education.
* Character education that is designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program of participating students.
* Literacy and related education development for families.
As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, schools must look for additional resources outside of the regular budget to meet the needs of students. Hedden thinks the 21st Century Program is an essential part of this initiative.
The No Child Left Behind Act recognizes that improved student achievement occurs when communities implement programs and strategies scientifically proven to be effective. Hedden said the CCLC established across the state will allow communities to work together with energy and inspiration to create a more positive future and youth.
"Their focus is on constructive learning activities during non-school hours. Caring adult guidance, school- and community-based academics and youth development programs result in greater achievement and social outcomes for children and youth," Hedden said.
The principal said he believes after-school programs can provide safe, engaging environments that complement the school day by promoting learning to improve student outcomes. "While there is no single formula for success in after-school programs, both practitioners and researchers have found that effective programs combine academic, enrichment, cultural and recreational activities to guide learning and engage children and youth in wholesome activities. They also find that the best programs develop activities to meet particular needs of the community they serve," he said.
The principal explained some of the types of activities that will be offered at the local 21st CCLC include:
* tutoring and supplementing instruction in basic skills like reading, math and science.
* Drug and violence prevention through counseling.
* Youth leadership and character building activities.
* Volunteer and community service opportunities.
* College awareness and preparation;
* Homework assistance centers and much more.
See next week's SMN to learn how the 21st CCLC could benefit the Thayer area.