Synergy and Afterschool Programming
As families and school districts work to provide academic, social, and emotional learning opportunities and support for their students, afterschool, before school, and summer programs are key pieces for many children. As an integral part of the learning process, programs teach children foundational skills, like communication, teamwork, and problem solving, and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. Today, we will focus on the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs at the Public School Forum of North Carolina and the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, a federal program led by the Department of Public Instruction across the state. Whether remote or in-person, these programs are essential for our students and are an integral part of an important partnership with families, schools and communities. Guests Dr. Sheronda Fleming, Public School Forum of NC Sheneika Simmons, Public School Forum of NC Dr. LaTricia Townsend, Department of Public Instruction
Welcome to education matters presented by the Public School Forum of North Carolina. I'm your host, Maryanne Wolf, as families in school District's work to provide academic, social and emotional learning opportunities for their students after school, before school and summer programs help Children learn, grow and realize their full potential as an integral part of the learning process, programs teach Children foundational skills like communication, teamwork and problem solving, and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. Today we will focus on the North Carolina Center for after school programs at the Public School Forum of North Carolina and the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, a federal program led by the Department of Public Instruction across the state. Whether remote were in person, these programs are essential for our students and are an integral part of an important partnership with families, schools and communities. It is our pleasure to have Dr Sharonda Fleming, the director, and Shanika Simmons, program coordinator of the North Carolina Center for after school programs at the Public School Forum of North Carolina, the center for after school programs, just hosted its annual synergy conference last week. Would you have start by sharing with us the purpose of this conference and how it serves the out of school programs in the state. Absolutely so. This past week, as you mentioned, we hold to the 16th annual Sanity Conference, and the conference serves as the only statewide conference designed specifically for after school before school and some of program providers across the state. In our advocates, through the annual conference, we're able to offer plenty Aries with amazing keynote speakers and Panelists, and a workshop and workshops on a range of topics relate to arson, literacy, culture and career readiness. Mentoring stemming you development. In addition to the plenary in work shots, the conference provides an opportunity for programs to network with their peers who serve you in famous in other counties across the state. Sharonda. We'd love to hear even some more about some of the highlights of the conference, but especially why is it so important to program providers across the state and maybe especially this year? Yes, so this year's conference was being future and focus. And so this theme highlighted the infinite ways our programs across the have come on and introduce you to new interests and open their eyes to potential career pathways were helping them keep their featuring focus. And for us, they're the feature, and so we have them literally in focus. And so this year we hosted our first ever You voices panel with nine amazing and inspiring you that participate in programs across the state and they're in beside into the impact of our programs on their lives, inspired all of us and frankly reminded us of the why behind the work that we do. Hi, this is Kelsey, and my favorite part of my who program is just being able to see my friend the futures and like, the excursions every day. It's something you We got crab and decide one of my favorite memories when we had, like, a career day. So we will go to the Fire Department Police Department. We did a lot of some projects outside, and my future Cabrera Bello is to be a doctor to find a cure for cancer. I want a major in engineering. Still, I could potentially create a new product for the world. One word that I would use to describe my after school program is engaging because with all the activities that they choose. They're so fun. Motivational. I can see no order people And, you know, maybe counselors or teachers or coaches, you know, just seeing so much in me and other you. This year we were so delighted to welcome Ash, not Christina Hammock Cook, who was a North Carolina native. We welcomed her back home virtually, of course, to serve as our keynote speaker and through her keynote, the wonder of space, she said, light on the critical need for stem engagement and exposure for girls. And she also urged all of us to cultivate program environments that foster still skill development and ignites Tim passion for our youth. And those were just a few of the highlights of this year's program. And so, typically, every year we we seek to provide a learning environment where our program provides air able to get professional development and to be inspired and, you know, reminded of why I like why we do this work and this program this year was not like any other. It did exactly that. Thank you so much. Shanika, the stem hub in the stem coalition, were both emphasized during the conference, but also is a key part of the work across the state. Would you share a bit more about the importance of stem, especially during this time? Yes, so high high quality stem with an out of school time programming, promotes, supports and cultivates curiosity and youth. They reinforce his skills, such as critical thinking, fluency and even public speaking. Them enable students to engage in hands on real world projects that offer innovative ways to approach a variety of issues that we face today, such as artificial intelligence or a stem cell research we learned during the STEM Coalition kickoff panel at the Synergy Conference. That stem is everywhere, and stem can be easily integrated into any programming. For example, social Woodard. She was a Panelist, and she's also the founder of dropping seeds in motion to discuss the integration of art and dance in stem. So throughout this, we have learned that still is fluid and more than ever are used need to be engaged in stem programming because the world is changing. And let's face it, in the next 5 10 or 15 years, there will be new career pathways that require stem skills. However, the reality is that jobs requiring stone skills are consistently developing, but there aren't enough qualified candidates to fill them, according to the after school lions. Still, jobs are expected to grow by 13% and by 2025 there will be more than two million still jobs that will go unfilled. And this is why the North Carolina center for after School Programs created the stem coalition for the Simcoe. The STEM coalition is the intentional convening of individuals from very sectors included, including, but not limited to business K 12 Education I, your head out of school time in communities to discuss barriers related to diversity, equity and inclusion within stem career pathways, and to develop strategies that will ensure more. You, especially girls and minorities, are involved in high quality stone as earliest kindergarten, and by consistently engaging you instead as early as kindergarten, it can encourage you to seek more opportunities to engage US time learning, thus creating lifelong connection and curiosity with instant pathways. Thank you so much for sharing that Shanika and so many different avenues and possibilities I know. The conference was originally designed to be an in person event, but due to cope in 19 a transition to virtual How did that change the impact of the conference? It didn't change at all. In fact, we were able to invite speakers to service. Keynote speakers are workshop presenters from across the nation. You know, as I mentioned before, we were able tohave astronaut Kristina Cooke join us virtually back home here in North Carolina. Ah, lot of our other speakers are from other parts of the nation as well. And so, in fact, we were able to provide a wider range of inside. And Resource is through this year's virtual conference. And because of that, you know our providers. They didn't have to choose one workshop during each block, but they're able to engage in participate in every workshop of their choosing because the conference, you know, they have access to that virtual portal through September. And so we're still allowing people to register for the conference through August so that they can engage and watch the recordings of all of our live sessions and live Flannery's, and they're able to watch those workshops. So, in my opinion, you know, we we really were resilient in our efforts for this year's conference, and I'm excited about the virtual platform and I know from reading evaluations from our attendees that they benefitted and they enjoyed it as well. Is there a particular student that really stood out to you or information about a program that you might like to share with us here? Um, definitely. I you know, for my youth panel, there isn't one particular student that stood out because they all with super amazing kids. And, you know, as I mentioned before, they all inspired us and reminded us of the wine, you know, there, you know, many of them were eight or 10 or 11 years old and just hearing from them, You know, you haven't been in programs that long, but to hear the impact that programs have had on their lives, you know, at such a early time, like, you know, like it really was inspiring and engaging in for all of the program providers that will watching in the comments like they kept saying the same thing like this makes me want to get back to my kids and with all coming up, you know, the state of our state with this pandemic, you know, there's a lot of decisions to be made with regarding reopening. And for a lot of our program providers who have not been with their kids throughout the summer months, they're really excited to see them and just to be with the kids because that's on purpose. And that's our passion. And that's why we do the work that we do well, thank you so much to both of you for sharing this amazing experience and, quite frankly, per providing the opportunities for leaders of these programs across our state. After the break, we will have Sharonda Fleming back with us, and she will be joined by Latricia Townsend to discuss the reopening of Addis full time programmes for the fall. Education matters has brought to you each week in part by town bank serving, others enriching lives. Welcome back to education matters. We are pleased to be joined again by Dr Sharonda Fleming and now with Dr Latricia Townsend, the director of federal program monitoring and support at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Welcome. Thank you. You are both directors of important statewide efforts that support those who provide after school or expanded learning programs for our students. Can you share your thoughts on the importance of the North Carolina center for after school programs and the 21st century Community Learning Center's, respectively. Sharonda. Sure so the North Carolina center for after school programs is one of 50 state after school networks across the nation. And so the North on sabbatical programs was established in 2000 and two with funding from the Mod Foundation. And so the goal of the statewide networks is to provide advocacy and support and to convene program providers across our respective states. And so that's exactly what NC CAP has been doing since 2000 and two. Doing that, providing advocacy, support and informing our program providers, Thank you so much. And Tricia. Okay, sure. Thank you for that. Sharonda. Um, we are happy to be a partner with you. You support 21st century programs in North Carolina in a way that's unparalleled. And so we thank you for that. The 21st century programs, um, that are funded by federal dollars means so much to families. We have over 100 grantee serving every region within our state. Um, 21st century programming and really any after school programing provides so much support for families it enables them to make sure that their Children are supervised. It make sure that they're safe. And what we really push is enrichment, um, academic enrichment and academic remediation. And so really making sure that students have what they're what they need to really be successful in a school setting. But beyond that, really making sure that they're successful as human beings and that they are able to receive just that love that kids need to really be able to grow. Thank you so much. And I couldn't agree more about how important the programs are that you all support across the state. Tricia. We are in an interesting year and know that schools air opening either and plan B or Plan C and relying on either hybrid or remote approaches to learning. And so I'm wondering, what do you expect the follow look like for after school or expanded learning programs in one word? Varied. Um, it will look different everywhere you go, and so we're asking our programs to be flexible. We're asking them to be great. Partners are asking them to reach out to the school district's that they support they 21st century programs will actually open within the plan that the district that they support is in their program is gone. Their programming is going to look very different, and so in some cases it will be a hybrid model. Some of them will offer face to face programming. Some of them will offer daytime programming, whereas they usually are only offering after school programing so students will have a safe place to go, and they will be able. Teoh. Those 21st century staff or tutors will be able to assist them as they work on some of their asynchronous assignments. And so that could be one approach. There might be cases where it's virtual, and so the actual 21st century programs will have Google Classroom set up. They will have ways that students are able to interact virtually. It will just depend. And so the big word is still that b word buried. It will just depend. Thank you so much. Fish in everything you say leads toe more questions. But also, I think, deep understanding that once again, it's really focused on what students need and how we can best provide those, even in these circumstances. So thank you. Um, Sharonda. If out of school time programs are electing to reopen within person programming in the fall or in following their school districts. Um, what should they consider? Absolutely, We definitely recommend that our programs consider all of the guy lines by the CDC and the Department of Health Consumer Human Services in our state, as well as the Department of Public Instruction within their programs. I want to make sure that their Children stay six feet apart at all times, creating physical barriers of possible Cy Image. On walls are on the floors to remind our students of the need to remain six feet apart, making sure that there are offering daily temperature checks, as well as daily screening for all of the youth and their programs, as well as the staff at work in their programmes. No program, wide assemblies or field trips, you know, reminding kids and staff to wash your hands. You know all of things we've been hearing on the news, you know, it all applies to our programs. One important thing to remember is that anyone who's not participating in the program I eat Onley, uh, you know, Onley, limiting access to programs for youth and staff. So no families, no parents, not allowing anyone into that space that is not actively participating in your programs. Staggering arrival and drop off times of youth after school are, you know, before school if you're offering that and then making sure that kids are separate during meals, you know, with sports and activities that they're not sharing balls or equipment or art supplies. You know, like all of those things. And our programs are typically very clean in general, like we are all pretty much ive ingrained in our brains to clean even before cold it. But now, more so than ever making sure that we're doing that that daily in routine cleaning off supplies in our transportation, you know, vehicles and everything that our youth and staff are using on a daily basis, thank you. And once again reminding us of the complexities that we're all needing to address. It does sound like there are a lot of ways after school programs are working to support students and make sure they're getting the food they need. Homework help and continuing with hands on learning. I wonder if you can describe some of these approaches and what after school programs can off offer to students in the hybrid or remote environment. Sharonda, yes, so actually have access to data from the after school alliance. And they found that when schools across the nation close in March, 78% of our out of school times our after school before school and summer programs they provided virtual programming to youth approximation. 37% of them provided meals to Children, and then 16% of them provided care to Children of essential staff. And so, even in March, when we all endure this pandemic and this is something new for a lot of us are programs still rose to the moment and still supporting families in communities in these varied approaches. Going back to Dr Townsend in her word, varied right? And so, for after school before school and summer programs there they are an integral part off the reopening conversation, not only North Carolina, but across the nation. They're a key partner for families, their key partner for school districts and so moving forward. It's important that they have a seat at the table and that they're a part of the discussion because for many of our districts that are going to Plan B with a hybrid model for those groups of students that will be remote on certain days or certain weeks. Programs can fill in the gap for families and provide that care and provide that hands on learning that we've we're known for across the nation. So it's important that our programs are part of the conversation moving forward. Thank you so much. And Tricia, I know that many families, including educators with their own Children, are struggling to have the support they need. If learning is remote, er, hybrid, which for our state it is right now. What recommendations do you have for them? Aziz A. Strive to meet the needs of their own Children, I would say, for families they need to speak up. If there is a knee that the family has, they have to let the providers know and so keeping that open line of communication going so that, um, Children are able to get their needs met. If parents do not let people know what they need, it's hard for those needs to be met. And so I would say the first thing is just really like being open and and communicating about it. Um, I would say also Grace, um, just understanding that we've never done this before and so we're not always going to get it right. And so being understanding, being flexible but yet and still extending that grace to those providers and then providing it back to themselves as a parent you've never had. We've never had to do this. And I can speak for myself as a parent. Never had Teoh to really understand what it's like to support Children academically emotionally while they go through this. So giving on the providers grace but then also giving themselves grace and given their Children a little bit of grace. Thank you so much. And I think so much comes sometimes from those questions that are asked from families. Sometimes they give us an idea or just help us understand the need that maybe we weren't quite sure of. I want to thank both of you for all that you do for our students and families and educators. Every single day. We are very, very grateful, and after the break, we'll have this week's final word. Last week I had a chance to hear directly from NASA astronaut and N. C. State graduate Kristina Cooke as she shared her experience at the International Space Station with me and a couple of 100 educators across North Carolina and beyond. Although I grew up watching the Space Shuttles luncheon following different missions, this direct connection on a virtual platform with this astronaut captured my attention. It made me curious to learn more. I wasn't able to be in the same room with her, but I felt connected. I have this learning opportunity because of the Synergy Conference, the statewide convening for those engaged in expanded learning programming for youth. I was immediately reminded of the importance of the stem hub stem coalition in the network of out of school time programs that students across the state engage in as a part of their learning. As you heard today, out of school time programs are important for child care, but they also provide much more Students, get additional help with their school work, have a safe place to grow and discover and can be inspired by the exposure to a variety of potential careers. This is especially important during the time of Kobe 19 as many of our after school programs had to switch from in person to virtual almost overnight, just like our schools after school or expanded learning opportunities have long been a critical resource and reliable partner. To address the needs of the whole child, we had a chance to hear directly from the students on what matters the most to them. During the Youth Voices panel at the Synergy Conference, many reference the relationships and the opportunity to pursue their interest. I was struck by how important it is that we bring youth voices into our programmatic efforts, and the difference is it can make and how we can meet students needs. Many of the program shifted the virtual options but continued the offerings through technology and providing packets or other resource is or science experiments to get them into the hands of students so that they were able to continue their learning and their interest from potential careers, including many in stem to creating their own products and ideas. Thes students show us what is possible when our students have opportunities to explore their interests and passions with resource is to support them in a state with many, many job openings in some understanding what it means to go into a career in stem and to see a path toward an exciting career will make a huge difference for a student having the opportunity to meet an astronaut or understand computer programming can open up doors for our students and help them for. It's an amazing future. Now, more than ever, students are seeing the importance of careers in stem and also crave the connections and relationships that these after school programs offer more than ever before. Investing in after school and expanded learning programs like thes and having policies that support their sustainability and growth are critical, especially in a time of Kobe. Thank you for taking time with us. Tow, learn and think about education. That's all for today, and we'll see you next week.