Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 17, 2019
After school program extends learning through fun
by Monique Labbe
For Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School students in grades 2 through 8 looking for an extra couple hours of fun, educational activities, the after school program has something for everyone.
From dance, vocal music, nature club, cooking, walking club, knitting club, board games and an array of other activities, the program, now in its second year, keeps students active physically and mentally.
The program is run by school staff and volunteers from the community, with help from CSD 13 Program Director Diana Hallen. Three Ed. Techs extend their work day at the school to provide students a safe place to be while their parents finish up their own work days. Students are bussed home or picked up at 4:45 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
In its second year, the program has grown by about 30 students, which has presented staffing challenges as more students participate, said Hallen.
“We are currently seeking a site coordinator, [which would be] a 20-hour a week position. The responsibilities are primarily supporting the daily operation, leading activities, and assisting the director,” said Hallen.
Additionally, Hallen said she would love to have even more volunteers from the community, as there are about two or three currently helping out on a regular basis.
The program is currently funded by a five-year grant administered by the Maine Department of Education. The school has three more years on that grant before they will need to find alternative funding to keep the program operating.
“The grant is based on the idea that eventually we will find sponsors and partners who can help to take over portions of the cost of running the program. A sustainability committee is in place to work towards becoming independent from the federal funding,” said Hallen.
An open house is scheduled for November 21 for students, parents and community members to check out the program and the activities students have to choose from. It is also a chance for people to see the importance of the program.
“Statistics and studies have proven that a supportive and enriching after school experience can enhance students’ classroom learning as well as improving overall test scores. We also truly believe that the social and emotional learning that can be encouraged in our program is significant,” said Hallen.