CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- The Charleston County School District is doubling the amount of schools offering a grant-funded after school program. Thanks to the 21st Century federal grant, five more Title One schools in the county are offering free after school care.
Charleston County School District Director of Expanded Learning, Jason Sakran, says, “Parents who had students in these after school programs last year were paying on average 40-50 bucks a week. Over the course of the year, that’s going to be saving about $2,000 for them.”
The program is newly implemented at Angel Oak, Edith L. Frierson, Mt. Zion, W.B. Goodwin, and Mary Ford elementary schools. These schools are considered “high poverty”, so while many of the students have high potential something as basic as hunger could be holding them back. All students in the program are given a meal after school every day so they can focus on academics and enrichment.
Once their bellies are full, the kids can participate in many programs that were not previously accessible to them, like karate or music lessons.
Site Coordinator for the program at Goodwin Elementary, Seth Summers, says, “Sometimes they don’t have the funds or the means to participate in these programs, so it’s great that right there at home, right there in their communities, they have access to all of this.”
He says the responses he’s seen from the kids say it all.
Summers says, “It has been electric. Their eyes are wide open, they get to see a lot of cool things. These vendors are bringing a lot of things to the table that we didn’t have.”
Plus, academics are mixed in. Certified teachers are on staff to make sure the students are excelling in the classroom.
Summers says, “They’ll be doing these engaging activities where they’re learning and they don’t even realize it.”
Sakran adds, “Most of the children have been sitting in a classroom, behind a desk for most of the day. When they are in our program, they are up, moving around. A lot of times it’s manipulatives and playing with games, but it’s all focused and aligned with the state standards.”
Charleston County School District officials say students who attend the 21st Century after school program daily throughout elementary school will see improvements in academics and social skills.