Growing up, I never realized the importance about after-school programs, that is until after I moved to Philadelphia. In middle and high school the only programs I was involved in was track and field but other than that, nothing. In Philadelphia, there is a huge support for after-school programs and I am proud to say I am now a part of that support and movement to grow it through my job as an after-school program coordinator for Hope Partnership for Education in North Philly.First off, Hope Partnership is an independent middle school located in North Philadelphia. Our motto is breaking the cycle of poverty through education and we do that through a myriad of programs such as adult education, graduate support, and much more. In addition to after-school directing, I am also a High School Placement Coordinator (which I will speak on in another post). The Enrichment Program (which is what the after-school program is called) is part of our extended day model in which students participate in different clubs and activities that physically, mentally, and emotionally engage them outside of the typical classroom experience.
Before I took on this position, I greatly underestimated the importance of my job. Initially I thought that this can be a cute little activity for students to do once they are finished with classes. No, after-school is much more imperative to a student’s learning. One of the reasons I love education so much is because as educators we have the power to unlock academic potential in students that can change their lives. Unfortunately, that potential is not always tapped into while in the classroom. I can speak for myself when I say that I was never excited to learn when I was a student, and it took other activities outside of class to engage me. One of the ways was as I mentioned before, track and field. I wasn’t motivated through what I learned in school, but I was encouraged when I got to run. It was a passion and hobby I never knew I had an affinity for until I joined, which is what makes after-school activities so important.
In the area I work in, many of these students have been exposed to very little outside of their community. The Enrichment Program allows them to discover hobbies and talents that they never realize they had through unique classes that introduce new opportunities to them. I have hired several bright and passionate instructors to teach these students a skill that they may carry with them into adulthood.
One thing I noticed about my students is that they LOVE social media. Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, or Dubsmash (I have no idea what that is) my students love to express themselves through electronics. What I questioned is if they know how to use it through other means besides what is already given to them. I thought that they would benefit from having a class that taught them how to blog as another form of self expression online. Self expression is everything to teenagers, and blogging is a great and creative way to do so. Rasheda Likely, a friend and member of my church Epiphany Fellowship (Follow them at @epiphanyfellowship on instagram), is a graduate student at Drexel who has a blog herself and has a passion for her craft which she wanted to share with these students. In the class not only do they learn how to make exciting blogs but they also know how to create a professional brand and about internet safety. I look forward to seeing what they write about that truly sparks a passion in them.
Okay so the only reason I wanted to write about this class is because of this AMAZING candid of the students (haha just kidding, sort of). Music is a powerful tool to empower not only students but people in general to be creative. In this class Eleanor Heisey, another graduate student at Temple teaches students how to play the violin which I believe is powerful. Music transcends through different cultures despite race, sex, and class and the fact that they are learning how to play such a beautiful sounding instrument inspires me. Who knows what could come out of this class, we may get the next Beethoven!
Fun with Science:
Unfortunately I do not have any pictures for this class which is sad because the experiments they have been creating are awesome! Getting students in urban areas excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has been a constant struggle in education for years. What if they can learn about science through alternate methods? That is when Fun with Science came to mind. My good friend and fellow City Year Philadelphia alumni Mihir Mulloth offered to teach the students how to make unique science experiments such as homemade lava lamps using simple household materials! The students have been raving about it and I love how they are so excited to learn about science through these experiments every week. First is getting them to see that science and math can be fun, next is having them become innovators in science and math in adulthood! If you hear me talk about education I always say we need more black men in this field, but we also need more black men and women in the sciences.
As the year goes on I will continue to document my work with this program and what my students will learn! I can’t wait to see the beautiful changes made in them. If you would like more information about Hope please check out our website at hopepartnershipforeducation.org. Also if you are interested or if you know anybody who is interested in teaching in the program please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 215-232-5410 ext 208.
Stay blessed. Follow me on Instagram @mr.suaray!