Mount Airy City Schools will put $1.1 million to use in an after-school program.
According to Dr. Phillip Brown, the district’s executive director for teaching and learning, the school system recently got word it will receive a $1.1 million in funding through a 21st Century Community Learning Center federal grant.
Over the next three school years, the dollars will be put to use in building an after-school program to serve students in grades kindergarten through eight, explained Brown. The program will run concurrent to the school year but will also include some summer opportunities.
Students who take part in the program will be provided recreational opportunities through a partnership with the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department, according to Brown. The school district will also partner with the the city, the Mount Airy Public Library and the Surry Arts Council to provide students with an enjoyable experience.
However, Brown said one of the important elements of the program is the fact it is facilitated by licensed teachers. Kids will get help with their homework each day, and the programming supports the district’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) curriculum.
Problem-based learning is also a large component of the programming, noted Brown, and an after-school snack will be provided through child nutrition funding. Family engagement is a required component of the program. Thus, parents will be invited to attend sessions throughout the school year.
“A strong community learning center after school program is a game changer for many of our students,” said Brown. “Access to a high quality STEAM curricula, our community partners, and rigorous physical fitness is a recipe that will make our program stand out above the rest.”
The program will keep students busy from the end of the school day until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and until 4:10 p.m. on Fridays. Transportation home for students is also included in the funding mechanism for the program.
B.H. Tharrington Primary School, Jones Intermediate School and Mount Airy Middle School will play host to the program. A site coordinator, two teachers, a parks and recreation staff member and a fitness instructor will be assigned to each site. On whole, nearly 240 students could be served by the program.
While Brown believes there will be plenty of space for all interested students, seats will be allotted first to any students who are considered to be part of the school’s at-risk student population. The district considers a number of factors ranging from economic to academic in nature when determining whether a kid is an at-risk student.
Brown also noted the grant includes funding for summer camps, which could end up serving another 370 students.
A similar but smaller program called Future Leaders Academy has been in place in the Mount Airy district for a few years, said Brown. However, the grant funding for that program is set to expire. The learning center program monies will not only allow the district to continue providing after-school activities, it will allow the district to grow its after-school opportunities for students.
Penny Willard, grant director, said school districts, churches, daycare centers or other organizations which provide after-school programming for kids were eligible to apply for the federal grant. The city school district was one of only five organizations in the Piedmont Triad region to see it’s grant proposal approved.
Willard noted $14 million in learning center funding was awarded in North Carolina for the 2017-18 school year.
“We are excited to be one of a few grants that were funded in North Carolina,” said Dr. Kim Morrison, the district’s superintendent. “These funds provide personnel and resources that will help make our programs successful. I am thankful for Phillip Brown, Penny Willard and the team of administrators that were able to successfully receive this grant that supports our youth.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.