By: Sarai Exil
This first semester of After-School Heroes (ASH) has been one crazy ride on a Linden Community Roller Coaster. As a team consisting of only first year Corps Members, we’ve had no experience to support us in our program. Only hasty comments made by our students in moments of anger, “Well, Ms. Jasleen let us play in the gym!”
We’ve had to overcome behavior problems such as children disappearing and then reappearing, children who have words that I didn’t learn until I was sixteen, boys who think play fighting still involves bashing their fists into someone else’s shoulder, and little girls who have more attitude than Queen Latifah herself.
I struggled as an After-School co-coordinator to create engaging lessons for students that I rarely worked with in my past. The community needs are much different than the ones I faced as a child, so having to modify their needs to fit our program has been a challenge too. When we worked as a team, I found that our lessons became more engaging, and that teamwork is the solution to everything.
The program in itself had a rough time with the schedule of the After-School Activities Bus. Due to the remodeling of our school, we have been at a temporary school for the past two years. To keep students engaged in after-school programs, the school system has provided a bus to take students back to their homes after the programs are over. Sadly, there is only one bus, and each activity has a different time range: during Volleyball season our program lasted until 4:30 (we are supposed to end a 4:15); during basketball season, we had to cancel after-school on Mondays and Wednesdays, since we couldn’t run a program until 6:30 pm (the kids wouldn’t have gotten home until 9 or later).
But now, I’m so glad we’ve survived this term! We look forward to the exciting move to the new building equipped to serve our students. We look forward to being able to run a program from 2:45 to 4:15 without having to worry about other programs. We will finally be able to have a PLANNING TIME! Our students will be able to come and go at a decent time instead of 8:30 pm like before (therefore creating a more consistent number of students in greater quantity). Invaluable field trips will become a reality in this new location, and awesome service projects that will empower our students to change the community they live in, which will then create a greater Linden.
Our whole team is ready and excited!