It's a chilly Monday afternoon at Eno Valley Elementary School in Durham. As an announcement over the loudspeaker releases the students to their buses and car pick-up lanes, a handful of second and third graders race down the hallway to give Ms. Avent a big hug. A Communities In Schools (CIS) of Durham Support Specialist during school hours, Crystal Avent also helps run the after-school program, 21st Century, at Eno Valley.
“The after-school program adds continuity, trust, and presence, which all compliment the CIS site coordinator model,” Crystal says. “I believe it's important for CIS to have as part of its services because what better than an after-school program where you feel safe and allows for fun and engaging activities that will help shape your future success.”
After more hugs and warm greetings, the thirty-some students line up in a hallway to head outside and enjoy the playground.
On the playground, a third grader shares her favorite part about the after-school program: “Before I came here, I would just do my homework or go to the library alone, but now I get help with homework and I get to be with all my friends.”
Play time is followed by snack time, and then the students start a rotation of fun learning activities in different classrooms. Today, Crystal teaches the kids about trust and kindness through an interactive, blindfolded activity. In another room, CIS of Durham After-School Program Coach Allison Swaim reads a book about acknowledging and accepting differences, asking the kids to apply it to their own lives. And in the third classroom, an Eno Valley teacher reviews lessons from the day, helping each of the kids with their homework.
“The teachers are consulted weekly on Common Core standards,” Crystal says. “I then design curriculum to support it as well as a curriculum based on children's interest, teachable moments, and current events.”
About 42 students at Eno Valley have enrolled in the 21st Century program, a federally funded grant program from the U.S. Department of Education, and an average of 30 kids attend each school day. Once free transportation is secured, Crystal expects that number to grow a little. The program at Eno Valley is in its second month, and the CIS staff are excited to see how it grows. 21st Century has also been implemented at EK Powe Elementary School as of this month.
Our commitment to providing a safe and educational after-school environment for Durham's youth is just one of the ways Communities In Schools of Durham has grown and will continue to grow in 2015. We hope you'll join us on the journey as we serve more students in more ways this year and continue to raise graduation rates across the county.