By: Melissa Santiago
A typical day at an after school program in each of City Year Columbus’ schools will look entirely different from one to the other. At Weinland Park Elementary, we’re fortunate enough to have a vital partnership with the Godman Guild. A community center in close proximity to our school, the Godman Guild, has been serving the central Ohio area since 1898 and has partnered with City Year for about 6 years to create a daily after school program for elementary school students called A.C.E.S., which stands for After School Program through Community Leaders, Educators, and Students. After school at Weinland Park is very structured with a regular schedule of homework help and snack time, followed by lesson plans which are individualized by grade level. City Year specifically works with students 3-5 because these are our “target” grades, or part of the most critical time period for helping students get on track towards high school graduation.
Every Wednesday after school turns into Starfish Corps, which consists of lesson plans and activities created by City Year. Students engage in activities that are centered on civic engagement, environment, peace in the community and health choices.
This week in after school students learned about team building and participated in a number of games that helped ingrain this principle. Within grade levels students worked as a team to accomplish fun tasks and played games that require communication and teamwork (both of which my third graders seem to struggle with regularly). The kids learned lessons in listening to their classmates and working together. We also had a visit from the Columbus Zoo this week and the kids got a chance to learn about and meet different animals- like Maddie the Flamingo, Ruby the Glass Lizard, an opossum, a boa and more. Like the zoo, many visits to after school from outside organizations are funded by grants. The Center for Science and Industry (COSI) visited Weinland Park third graders after school and taught a lesson in aerodynamics. Students created their own paper planes and ran experiments flying them to see what variables would make them fly a further distance. Students played with weights, clips, and different folding techniques to tweak their planes in 12 different trials over the span of 3 weeks. Making hypotheses, tracking data, and drawing conclusions was a great way for them to practice the scientific method. For the majority of students at the school, admission to educational and fun places like the zoo and science museum is something they cannot afford. After school helps bridge this gap when possible by bringing these places to the students for free. Every week after school provides enrichment clubs and activities that the kids would probably not otherwise be exposed to. My role in after school as a City Year corps member is vital in helping create a positive learning environment after school and helping provide resources to students that will enhance their education.