Chautauqua Striders collaborates with the Jamestown Public Schools after school programs either in partnership with the YMCA or YWCA or as an independent provider. Additionally, it also serves students in many other Chautauqua County districts located in the central and northern parts of the county. All tutoring programs are designed to support national core standards and curriculum. While approaches may vary, across the nation, the focus of every district is to uphold these standards and impart them to its students.
With funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, Chautauqua Striders was able to send two of its academic tutoring coordinators, one each from the north and south county regions, to the "Beyond School Hours" conference sponsored by Foundations Inc., a national nonprofit organization "committed to building the quality of educational opportunities for children, youth and families through work with public and charter schools, school districts, education and community-based organizations, and the after school field."
For the last 16 years, it has hosted this remarkable event, bringing educators, administrators, after school coordinators and on-site staff persons together from across the United States for the purpose of networking, sharing ideas, learning new teaching techniques and strategies, and hearing from experts in the field of education and after school time.
Held in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 20-23, hundreds of people came together under one roof with one goal in mind: to improve and strengthen programming in order to better serve the needs of students after school.
From Alaska to Texas to Connecticut to the Virgin Islands, people came. The opening ceremony featured the incomparable poet and national treasure, Maya Angelou. The next morning, prior to the first work sessions, attendees were treated to the inspirational words of keynote speaker, Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Ga. Clark was the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year and is a best selling author, making appearances on the "Oprah Winfrey Show," the "Today Show" and CNN. He shared his teaching experiences - successes and failures - with a rapt audience, inspiring everyone.
During the course of the next two days, educational sessions ran from early morning until 5:30 p.m. Some of the topics covered included: integrating social justice (into programming), bringing Latino culture into the classroom, digital media, parental involvement, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) projects and exercises, literacy, arts, mathematics, program funding and maintenance, academic enrichment, fitness and nutrition, youth empowerment and development, and many, many more.
The list of options seemed endless. In addition, exhibitors were on hand to offer their wide-ranging versions of academically enriching activities for after school programming.
One of the most significant facets of the conference was easy accessibility to literally hundreds of gifted and passionate individuals whose sole purpose is to help children succeed in education and in life. The atmosphere of the entire event encouraged the exchange of ideas between diversely different groups and individuals, offering an invaluable experience.
Used to their fullest capacity, after school programs allow for an enriching and fun-filled extension to regular classroom time. Support from school districts, teachers, community and business partners, and individual volunteers bring learning alive and make it relevant to children and young adults.
Statistics show the hours between the end of school and dinnertime are those in which students are most likely to get into trouble or engage in "risky" behavior. Having the accessibility of quality programming, at low or no cost, works in everyone's favor. Academic assistance, core standards, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and literacy infuse nearly every aspect of after school in a fun and engaging way. For more information about program enrollment procedures and activities, log onto the Chautauqua Striders website at www.chautauqua-striders.org or call 488-2203 in Jamestown or 363-2203 in the north county to be directed to the appropriate program site.