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District continues achievements after school day

By Bonnie Erickson

Neveln After School Academy Coordinator

Austin Public Schools is fortunate to again be able to offer After School Academy programming for students at the elementary and middle school levels. The goal of the program is to provide additional opportunities for academic support and enrichment after school. The program is sponsored in part by the Integration Collaborative in an effort to promote high academic achievement and create opportunities for students of all backgrounds to get to know each other and learn more about the diverse cultures that make up our community.

This has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to enrich their days and to engage in positive interactions with peers. While every elementary building is involved in after school programming, each building has a unique service delivery. Here at Neveln Elementary School we have modified and added to programming based on parent, teacher and community member’s feedback. Surveys were completed at the end of the school year, and the decision was made to limit our enrichment programs to Monday and Wednesday with three, six week sessions. This allows our students to participate in a wide variety of classes. Busing is provided for all students who are eligible. Courses are typically taught by community members and volunteers in addition to professional teaching staff.

Some examples of popular courses offered as a part of NASA (Neveln After School Academy) include “Fun and Fitness” under the direction of Helen Jahr, community member. Fourth- and fifth-grade students are able to learn a variety of activities and games to promote healthy living and physical fitness. “Top Chef” under the direction of Diane Sherman and Eileen Carroll, teaches students how to prepare simple foods and learn new vocabulary. “Lego League” taught by David Wolff, district Gifted and Talented coordinator, allows students to have fun while creating with Legos. The “Power of Wind” taught by Stephanie Stundahl, U of M extension, allows students to learn about the science of wind power.

Parents have been overwhelmingly positive in their response to NASA (Neveln After School Academy) and our winter session currently has more than 210 students enrolled. That is over half our student population at Neveln.

As we strive to meet the educational challenges faced by our diverse and ever changing community, After School Academy is a positive way to allow students to engage in unique opportunities not provided during the school day. It allows community members not typically involved in the schools, to interact with students and staff members. It provides a safe and nurturing place for students after school. It also fosters communication between the home, school, and community settings.

If you would like additional information regarding After School Academy, contact any Austin Public School office.