The following is a guest blog post by Susan Stanton of ACT Now Network
Students benefit when their afterschool providers coordinate with their school day teachers and administrators. Connections between the school day and afterschool help to increase curricular alignment, reinforce behavior expectations, and increase partnerships with parents and families. School leadership is an integral part of making these partnerships work. The following are two excellent examples of school leadership and afterschool program partnerships in action in Illinois.Neponset Grade School
At Neponset Grade School, Site Coordinator Patrick Peach and Principal Dena Hodge-Bates set clear expectations up front to make sure their partnership is strong. Before the afterschool program even started, school leaders and program staff met to talk about mission, vision, and expectations. These discussions meant that both parties were on the same page from the beginning and set up a trusting and respectful relationship.
To keep their partnership strong, Peach and Hodge-Bates meet weekly to discuss what the students are working on during the school day. School teachers make sure students fill out a homework log that students bring with them to their afterschool program so instructors know what the students are working on and what homework they have. Moreover, Site Coordinator Peach attends staff meetings so that way he is aware of what is going on during the school day. The social and emotional curriculum used during the school day is also used afterschool. This partnership and use of this curriculum has led to lower incidents of behavior referrals. Although there is a lot of collaboration and overlap, Peach stated that they do keep some supplies separate and have separate storage space for afterschool, in order to promote respect for the school day classrooms.
The afterschool program also helps to support family engagement by planning a parent event once a month in coordination with the school. In the past, they have held parent reading night, storytelling, dinner, art shows, and a STEM night. Parents also attend a parent night at the beginning of the year, which school and afterschool staff attend, to make sure families know that the same expectations that apply to the school day also apply to afterschool. Wethersfield Jr./Sr. High School
Site Coordinator Chris Reeves and Superintendent Shane Kazubowski also have a strong afterschool/school day partnership at Wethersfield Jr./Sr High School. Their afterschool program is called Soaring. Similar to the Neponset program, the school and afterschool decided on a goal ahead of time: to keep students on track to graduate. They have been largely successful in this goal. School report card data shows that they are above the state average for students on track to graduate, in graduation rates, and they have had no junior high retentions. The program has a before and afterschool component and offers snack, transportation, homework help, and a broad array of enrichment programming, including game club and a robotics club (with a partnership with Martin Engineering).
Soaring program staff work closely with school day teachers, and school day teachers will often come to the program to support afterschool tutors. Soaring has also hired students to act as tutors. Working out how tutors can coordinate with school day teachers has been key to the program’s success. Afterschool staff and school day teachers use email, face-to-face contact, and Google Docs to share information about students and to keep lines of communication open.
Another way Soaring has collaborated with the school day is by providing support to identified at-risk students. The program and the school make parent contact and develop a joint plan to support those students.
For more information about afterschool programming or how to foster positive school-afterschool partnerships, contact ACT Now Network Lead Susan Stanton at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit ACT Now’s website at www.actnowillinois.org