Fifth grader Emani is new to the Out of School Time (OST) program.In Feltonville, where two of our OST sites operate, slots fill up fast. Like many of her classmates, Emani’s entire family benefits from the program. She and her sisters are all enrolled, which lets Mom know that her daughters are getting homework help and extra support.
According to Emani, OST is way better than school. That’s likely because of its unrivaled activities and partnerships that keep Emani and her classmates engaged with their learning. Like when The Franklin Institute visited the technology club to instruct students on how to build homemade boats and test buoyancy. Another time, Emani’s program instructor created a game that taught the class words and definitions of a higher grade level, which Emani still boasts about. “You learn things, but at the same time, you have fun,” she said.
Making learning more fun is part of Jasmine’s job. She’s the program’s STEAM coordinator, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. When children and youth are inspired at an early age, their motivation and success extends into adulthood. At ECS, young people are empowered to learn, grow, and start preparing for their futures today.
“In our project-based learning projects, we tie in the Common Core standards used in the classroom,” Jasmine said. “And we take into consideration what the participants want to do, which keeps them excited to learn.”
Next year, Emani will join the middle school program, where the activities will be a bit more sophisticated and focused on preparing participants to graduate high school. She’s nervous to make the transition, but prepared.
As Emani continues to grow, ECS will continue to open doors for her. She may even move onto spending Saturdays with our Seeing Youth Succeed program for high schoolers. Until then, Emani can keep being a kid.
Either way, she doesn’t have to be a stranger upon earning alumna status. Former participants frequently return as happy adults to visit staff they remember fondly. “These doors are always open,” Jasmine said.