News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 18, 2018
After school program gets under way

by Tevlin Schuetz

The 21st Century Community Learning Center Program at the elementary school is up and going, according to director Diana Hallen, who briefed the CSD Board during its October meeting.

The grant-supported program is aimed at improving skills in mathematics and literacy, which have been areas of lower performance on standardized assessments for a majority of the school population, Hallen explained.

“The goal is to have teachers identify kids in their classes who could use the extra help,” Hallen said.

The program offers tutoring and homework help Mondays through Thursdays, with the exception of holiday and vacation days, Hallen said. In addition, the program includes team-building and enrichment activities. Students also receive snacks and are bussed home afterward.

As posted on the elementary school website, activities during the first week included: Robots, for Grades 3 through 5; Lego Robotics, for Grades 5 through 8; Cooking, for all grades; Mileage Club (walking for fun and fitness), for all grades; and Yoga, for all grades.

In a broad spectrum, educators have reported that students who regularly participate in 21st CCLC programs have shown “improvements in homework completion, class participation, attendance, appropriate behavior in class and … reading and math achievement scores and grades,” Hallen said.

Data recording and compliance requirements are important components of the grant program, Hallen said, adding, “So far we are on track for this first year.”

Hallen provided an update in an October 16 email to Island Ad-Vantages.

“We are entering our third week. We are signing up more kids every day, and the list of activities through volunteers and staff is growing as well. The program is definitely building a core group of about 25 kids who come every day. Feedback from parents has been very positive.”

The future of the program looks encouraging, too, Hallen said.

“The grant is for five years, so there is time and room to develop an exceptional program,” she said, adding, “I just learned at a recent conference that the federal budget for the 21st CCLC Program was increased by $10 million for 2019. That roughly translates into serving 10,000 more students nationwide.”

Hallen—who lived in Portland for a number of years and was a summer resident on the Island from a young age—moved back to Maine recently from Pittsburgh, where she worked for a 21st Century program at a charter high school, she said. “I saw firsthand what a difference this experience can make for an individual student in so many ways,” she said.

The 21st CCLC Program contract was awarded in late May from the Maine State Department of Education. The district will receive $77,000 for years 1-3, $57,750 for year 4 and $50,050 for year 5.