In one classroom, Fayette teacher Amy Herman is leading students on a project to create three-dimensional pumpkins—each is a dodecagon, with 12 sides. The next day the students were to clean out real pumpkins and cook the flesh.
Down the hall in the elementary school computer lab, teacher Jason Ohlemacher is guiding students through a session with Success Maker software. The interactive program pinpoints a student’s grade level in reading and mathematics skills and provides activities and assessment.
The third group of students is out on the playground with Rachel Kinsman from the Fulton County Health Department. Activities are often unstructured, and as long as students are engaged in some form of physical activity, they have their teacher’s blessing.
After 25 minutes, the students switch activities until they’ve had a turn with each of the three segments.
It’s all part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center program funded through the U.S. Department of Education.
This marks the second year of the five-year program for Fayette, and this is the second time the district was chosen to participate.
Elementary principal Dr. Luann Boyer shortened the name of the program to FAST (Fayette After School Time). After school is the main focus of FAST, but there are three related segments.
The Morning Program is scheduled every day from 6:45 to 8 a.m., when Mr. Ohlemacher is available to help with homework and offer some tutoring. Breakfast is available for the early risers.
The Saturday Program is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon most Saturdays through March 5 at Normal Memorial Library. Programs are scheduled for children from kindergarten through grade six, but the grant has allowed the library to open for all patrons during those Saturday hours. State funding cuts resulted in reduced hours for the library in September 2009, including the end of Saturday hours.
There was also a Summer Session at the school during which children planted a garden and harvested crops.
The after-school program is strictly for students in grades two through five who have been recommended by teachers for participation.
In the first round of the program that started in 2004, the main focus was on remedial education. This time there’s more emphasis on enrichment, Dr. Boyer said, and that’s being bolstered by outside agencies such as the health department.
“It is our goal to enrich students’ lives and at the same time provide academic assistance,” she said.
Each after-school session starts off with a snack, Mr. Ohlemacher said, and then the three sessions begin concurrently. One teacher is in charge of reading and mathematics enrichment and another offers a special activity.
“That provides an opportunity for students to learn and experience things they might not have an opportunity to experience at home or during a normal school day,” Mr. Ohlemacher explained.
Sessions will cover subjects ranging from soybeans to cooking to building bird houses. Entertainment days will include video games, Wii games and an introduction to the Apple iPad. Ten Fayette teachers will lead the various special classes.
The technology session generally incorporates the Success Maker software mentioned earlier to help students prepare for state testing and to push for greater academic growth in their grade level.
“Success Maker has proven to be very effective in the past,” Mr. Ohlemacher said. “If students can get 60 minutes a week working with the program they have a 98 percent chance of passing the Ohio Achievement Assessment.”
In addition to sessions provided by the Fulton County Health Department, FAST will also receive a visit from Sauder Village personnel, and the formation of Scouting groups is on the agenda.
Students are FAST expanding their horizons—both mentally and physically—and having a lot of fun along the way.