You can see all kinds of great things going on at our After-School Academy these days!
This morning, I finally had a chance to catch up on some emails and found this video posted on our After-School Academy blog:
Danielle Evans runs our After-School Academy and goes way above and beyond her job to make sure the kids are constantly engaged and learning new things. The first Saturday of every month, Home Depot offers a free class for kids to build things like rain gauges, a car display rack, a bird house, and now a butterfly house. Danielle has started taking some of our more active boys and has also recruited a parent or two. Phillip is Lamarcus and Joshua's dad and has taken to attending every Home Depot trip to help his boys build new things. I spotlighted Bridgett and Phillip here...and both are still going strong with their involvement in the program.
One thing I feel very strongly about is to expose kids to opportunities that aren't the normal, run-of-the-mill activity. We rarely take the kids to movies (unless they've read the book and then the movie comes out) or Speed Zone or something like that. I believe every child deserves the opportunity to be exposed to as many new things as possible so that they can begin to determine what they really enjoy and what area gives them the most fulfillment.
So far, some of our kids have developed a big interest in gardening, while others have developed pride in their ability to interview people in our Junior Reporters program. The Digital Connectors have created videos at the Apple store and learned about video creation at Janimation. Last summer the After-School Academy learned about the environment when they went to the Waste Water Treatment Plant, learned about emissions at Frito Lay, and visited the landfill, among other things. Our bottom-line focus is college, so the elementary kids take at least one college trip per year. Teen U has visited Texas A & M-Commerce, Prairie View A & M, Huston-Tillotson, UT-Austin, Navarro, and UTD just since September.
I just wish everyone else could see the progress I see.
David laughs and greets and talks. I wouldn't have known what that meant, except that his mother told me (see what his mother told me here).
Lewis has an understanding that he is filled with "knowledge" and will tell you that if I ask him the simple question of, "What do you have?" (if you met him last summer, you would know how important this fact is).
Randy (5th grade) is absolutely certain of where he will attend college. (I learned that when I introduced himself to a guest I toured through the program and he informed the man, "I plan to go to UTD." When asked why (I was even surprised he was so matter-of-fact about it!), he simply stated, "Because we took a field trip there last summer and that's where I want to go."
Unique and engaging field trips make a difference.