After-school program grows efforts to support students outside class

A new after-school program in northwest Dayton just wrapped up its first year of serving students, mirroring the heralded Miracle Makers program that East End Community Services and Dayton Public Schools have used to boost Ruskin School in East Dayton.

Omega Community Development Corporation officials said their Scholars of HOPE program boosted academic achievement and parent involvement at Fairview PreK-6 School, thanks to a five-year Community Learning Center grant.

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Omega Program Director Dormetria Thompson told DPS officials last week that 90 students in kindergarten through third grade participated in Scholars of HOPE, which ran from 3 to 6 p.m. each day that Fairview was in session.

A mix of current and retired teachers, along with classroom aides, taught reading and math via the BELL curriculum that is already taught in Dayton area Freedom Schools over the summer. Students got a meal every day, and Fridays were enrichment days when students got to choose from activities such as music, chess, martial arts and mentoring sessions. Volunteers from Omega Baptist Church and other groups supported the program.

“Hope is what our scholars need daily, and our call is to inspire and uplift,” Thompson said. “The HOPE acronym stands for healthy, optimistic, prepared and educated, and our third-graders came up with that.”

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Thompson said students were checked for academic growth via the STAR testing system, with a majority of kindergarten and first-grade students advancing from the transitional reader designation to probable reader. She said the Grade 2 and 3 scholars, as the program calls them, grew an average of 1.41 years in literacy.

Thompson said parents were required to attend orientation for their children to participate, and most parents attended activity nights as well.

“Positive parent engagement is key,” she said. “I believe our expectations a lot of times are too low for both our scholars and parents.”

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Thompson said participation was 70 percent female in the first year, so the program is trying to draw more boys. She said the average student attendance was 75 percent, with the biggest hurdle being a lack of transportation home at 6 p.m.

School board President William Harris thanked Thompson and Omega for the after-school partnership and their work “to uplift our young people, to educate them and get them ready academically and socially.”

More school support

Another program to support DPS students beyond the standard classroom was renewed last week, as six $30,000 Neighborhood School Center contracts were approved by the school board. The six schools, with their partner agencies, are Fairview (Omega CDC), Ruskin (East End), Kiser (Children’s Hospital), Cleveland (YMCA), Edison (YMCA) and Westwood (Wesley Center).

DPS and the partner agencies share the cost for a site coordinator and materials at each school, and work together to provide academic help and other supports such as health services, depending on what the school needs. The idea is to align resources from the broader community to help students and families.

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Lolli said DPS sent a team to a national conference on Neighborhood School Centers, and as a result it will create an individualized plan for each student involved with the NSC.

“That means the teacher, site manager and parent are all engaged, making sure whatever your issue is, we’re working simultaneously on it, and not in a jumbled way,” Lolli said. “We anticipate we’ll see a great change in the results we’ve been collecting on discipline, attendance and even academic achievement.”

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