Extra hours make a difference for Bronaugh students

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nevada Daily Mail

During the 2014-'15 academic year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be visiting Bronaugh School to evaluate the After School Program.

But program director Julie Forkner isn't worried. After a successful school year, she said she's heard from DESE representatives that the program has a good reputation.

"DESE knows about Bronaugh After School, and they are proud," Forkner told school board members at a mid-June board meeting. "I'm really proud."

The After School program gives students the chance to receive tutoring and homework help, do community service and participate in educational activities. Parents are also included in the program with family nights and adult classes. Joyce Ryan, the adult educator, said those courses include topics on technology, parenting, child education and gardening.

"We have to offer these classes whether people show up or not," Forkner said.

Attendance for students hasn't seemed to be an issue. Nearly 90 children participated in the program throughout the year, with an average of 50 children participating each day.

"This year our number went up for total enrollment," Forkner said. "That's good for a school of our size."

Forkner said outside evaluations, completed by Phyllis Sprenkle, showed some students are exceeding requirements. For those students, Forkner said, the school or program needs to consider what services to provide above-average students.

"Six kids were reading four grade levels above their grade level. We need to do something with those kids," she said about several fourth grade students.

Still, the program focuses on helping students who struggle or don't fully understand classroom work. After School staff regularly work with teachers to know where students need help, and homework they have after the school day ends.

A survey of regularly attending students showed that 11 increased math grades by a half letter grade or more while 17 increased reading grades.

"We're trying to make a difference for kids. We have those kids that are low, and we want to do that for them," Forkner said.

And, the program gives older students the opportunity to learn more about education as a career field.

Alexis Brown, a college student majoring in education, told the school board she enjoyed working with students who attend the end-of-day program. The activities and simple experiments she provides students focus on science, technology, engineering and math. A recent task required students to make boats that could hold pennies without sinking. Brown said many of her activities also center around student teamwork.

"I love my job," she said.

The After School program recently received a $3,000 scholarship to cover STEM training for staff. An additional $480 grant provided baseball and softball equipment. Program funds covered $50 worth of shipping of bats, balls, safety gear and more, and Forkner said she thought the expense was worth the number of items received.

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