Committee discusses middle school after-school program

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The possibility of an after-school program for middle school students was the focus of discussion during the YMCA of Chilton County Community Needs Assessment Follow Up meeting on March 1.

Allison Tubbs of the YMCA of Chilton County said the program would incorporate the top three aspects determined to be top needs in the community — a mentoring program, youth leadership with soft works skills development and a responsible living series.

The program would serve seventh and eighth grade students.

“What that program would consist of would be maybe a little academic help, some character building and mentoring and some down time that has games,” director Lori Patterson said.

In discussing locations for the program, the group decided it would good for the program to be held at each of the schools that have seventh and eighth grade.

This would eliminate some of the transportation challenges. Patterson mentioned the possibility of partnering with churches to provide transportation for the students from the program to their homes.

Patterson said the school counselors could help identify students that would benefit from the program.

“Basically, kids that go home to an empty house or children who are already identified as at risk … or a one-parent house or (children) that aren’t really involved in anything,” Patterson said.

Participants were divided into three small groups to discuss ideas. Then, the groups presented ideas.

Chilton County Schools Superintendent Tommy Glasscock, who served as his group’s spokesperson, recommended having a site coordinator at each school who would have a background check done by the school and make sure everything was turned off and locked after the program. He said there might be some federal funds available for such a position.

Tal Morrison was spokesperson for his group, and he highlighted that having enough volunteers that would commit to every week could be a challenge.

Morrison said it would be good to partner with local businesses and college students for volunteers to introduce students to job opportunities and soft skills.

Morrison’s group felt math and reading would be important areas of focus.

“What values are we wanting to teach?” Morrison said.

Patterson said they are researching character education curriculum that could serve as the foundation for the program.

Janice Hall said it is also important to incorporate fun activities.

Rebecca George, who spoke for her group, said it was important to have the same volunteers each time so the students and volunteers can develop relationships.

An incentive for students who completed a semester of the program was also suggested.