Supporting Students after the School Bell: A Focus on After School Programs
By Danielle Hunter, After School Program Coordinator and Nachelle McLaws, Instructional Aide at Destiny Middle School
In just our first year at Destiny Middle School in Tacoma, students on average achieved 1.5 years of reading growth.
Our students have made tremendous gains in the classroom with the help of dedicated teachers and staff who believe all of them can succeed in college, leadership and life. At Destiny we believe in serving the whole child. That’s why learning and student growth doesn’t end at the last school bell.
Our after school program complements the strong instruction and tailored supports students get in the classroom, which give students time to explore their passions and learn skills such as teamwork and building relationships.
Helping students explore their passions
Each quarter students enroll in a speciality class based on their interests. They can choose from classes such as hip hop dance, comic book club, a computer creativity class where they design their own website, or a sports survey class where students learn how to play and compete in a sport like basketball. They attend a speciality class on Monday and Wednesday and on Tuesday and Thursday they attend academic intervention classes where they get extra help, which includes math and reading tutoring. This time helps teachers ensure that students learn positive behavior skills that will prepare them for success inside and outside the classroom.
On Friday after school, the students are rewarded with time to participate in different sports activities, arts and crafts, movie watching, or leisure time with friends to celebrate their accomplishments from the past week.
The students work hard in the classroom and these activities balance out their day and give them an outlet for their energy. The students enjoy time building friendships and learning new skills while participating in these activities after school.
Whether it’s learning teamwork on the sports field, working independently on building a website or creating something unique like choreographing a dance, the students learn they are capable of accomplishing anything.
You see their growth and change in behavior. They participate more and build positive relationships with the staff. Students that were once quiet are coming out of their shell.
Demarea Wilkins is one student who has shown tremendous growth in his first year at Destiny. When it came time to advocate for Destiny Middle School and other public charter schools in Washington state, Demarea stepped up. He was featured in a video with other Destiny students and students from a public charter school in Seattle to help tell the story of students across the state on why a public charter school was the right fit for them. He helped give students a voice in the fight for public charter schools in Washington state.
He built on this experience and participated in the hip hop class and playing sports in the after school program. Even though he had danced in the video he was still timid when he participated in the hip hop dance class. During the rest of the year, Demarea has showed perseverance and heart in continuing with the class and as a result, not only has his dancing improved, but so has his confidence. He has also improved his teamwork and sportsmanship skills by participating in sports. Demarea respects his teammates and he’s often seen encouraging kids on the other team.
Through academics and after school activities, the students are becoming a family. The after school program also gives the Tacoma community an opportunity to learn more about Destiny and build relationships with the students. Building these relationships help our students build community pride and be a future leader in Tacoma.
Destiny Middle School is currently enrolling students for its 6th and 7th grade classes. If you or your friends or family are looking for a school that serves the whole student we encourage you to learn more about Destiny Middle School at www.wa.greendot.org/destiny/