by Erin Albanese, KISD School News Network
Wyoming Public Schools, MI — For Claribel Ortiz, having a place for her four children to go after school and in the summer while she works helps a lot.
She knows David, 11, Francisco, 10, Josue, 9, and Jazmine, 7, will get help with their homework, have access to computers, hang out with friends, and have fun at T.E.A.M 21.
“It is extremely helpful,” she said. “It is a huge benefit in the summer.”
Her son, David, said he likes the “learning” part of the program, and field trips to places like an indoor trampoline park and a pumpkin patch. He and his siblings attend the Parkview Elementary School location, in Wyoming Public Schools.
Like Ortiz’s children, more elementary school students in Wyoming will have a place to go after school and during the summer, thanks to recently approved grant funding to restore and expand T.E.A.M 21.
The City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department and Wyoming Public Schools was recently awarded federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, allocated by Michigan Department of Education, totaling $1.35 million each year for five years to cover nearly all direct costs for the program, Bloem said. The grants are funded with federal dollars that flow from the U.S. Department of Education to the states.
The money follows a year of cuts due to the expiration of grant money which forced the program to end at several elementary sites, said Scott Bloem, project director for the program. Last year, a five-year grant funding the T.E.A.M. 21 program in all Wyoming schools expired, and while schools were able to secure funding for the middle school program, the elementary grant was not renewed.
“To lose the feeder schools was hard for buildings,” Bloem said. “We’re very happy to be able to restore the elementary program.”
Serving Four Wyoming Districts
T.E.A.M 21 is a collaborative program offered through a partnership between Wyoming, Godwin, Godfrey Lee and Kelloggville school districts and the City of Wyoming.
“This program provides academic, social and physical opportunities with caring adults to support our students and their families,” said Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Tom Reeder.
Carol Lautenbach, Godfrey Lee Public Schools director of elementary education, said cutting the program there was a big loss.
“Parents were quite devastated to tell you the truth,” she said, noting that there was a great connection between the after-school program and the classroom. “From my perspective, it’s really offering children experiences.
During the 2012-2013 school year, T.E.A.M 21 served more than 1,300 unique students. Bloem predicts more than 2,000 students will now participate at a total of 15 sites, up from seven, in the four districts.
The summer program operates as a half-day summer school program run by certified teachers and a half-day of fun, enrichment activities for students to experience new things, Bloem said.
The after-school program offers homework help, character education, service projects, and focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, health and nutrition.
Transportation and meals are provided.
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