Working Together to Support Expanded Learning
The bell rings, signaling the start of afterschool for a half million children in the Central Valley. For too many this time is unsupervised, marked by the risks associated with boredom and unstructured time.
The risky behaviors: bullying, drugs, gangs, alcohol, sexual activity, pornography, crime, suicide, and other self-destructive activities. […]
At times, it can be an uphill battle for El Nido Elementary School’s afterschool program. This small rural school located in Merced County faces challenges with their budget, resources, transportation, and lack of space. But, those challenges do not keep them from being creative when it comes to running a successful afterschool program that benefits more than half of the school’s student population daily.
With a little ingenuity, collaboration, and dedication on the part of teachers, administrators, and staff members, it is clear that the students are their top priority.
“We are small and do not have resources like other schools but, we are creative and unique; and the kids really enjoy it,” said William Hernandez, director of El Nido Elementary School’s ASES Program.
The afterschool program is largely dictated by the opinions of the student participants. For example, if students request a fashion design class, the afterschool program staff members try to figure out how to make it happen without the budget to provide sewing machines, patterns, or fabric. In the end, organizers have found ways to piece it together and ask a teacher volunteer to show students how to sew by hand. El Nido’s program also offers music, drama, and art enrichment classes.
“I like the enrichment classes because [they] have different things I can’t do at home or during school,” said Cindy Jimenez, seventh grade student at El Nido Elementary. […]
California’s Central Valley has enjoyed some much-needed rainfall this season to relieve the 2015 drought. But now, Valley communities find themselves hoping to address a different type of drought: teachers.
Indeed, a teacher shortage is upon us. It seems like yesterday when we were faced with a recession and more than 30,000 teachers were laid off. Now, with an increased K-12 student population; higher student-to-teacher ratios; fewer college students entering teacher education programs; one-third of teachers approaching retirement; Common Core instruction and testing debates; and various forms of media promoting the negative side of teaching; we find ourselves amid a distressing deficit of qualified teachers.
Educational leaders now turn to expanded learning practitioners—including thousands of afterschool and summer program leaders and tutors—as one solution to help fill immediate and long-term teaching gaps.
Preventing the Central Valley’s most vulnerable students from negative impact
Dr. Paul Beare, dean of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, is concerned about “the huge decrease” of people enrolling in teaching credential programs. In fact, he reveals that in 2008, 44,600 people enrolled in teacher preparation programs in California compared to only 19,000 who enrolled last year. […]