GREENVILLE — Since September, Empowering Darke County Youth’s After School Program has been enrolling kindergarten through fourth-grade students at the Edison State Community College Darke County Campus.
Empowering Darke County Youth became official June 2. While the the focus of the organization is K — 4 at — risk youth, the goal is to meet a variety of needs for Darke County young people. The after school program is one of those initiatives. It is goverened by Empowering Darke County Youth’s Board of Directors: Eric Fee, President; Kendra Chalmers, Vice President; Krista Stump, Treasurer; Rhonda Williams, Secretary; and Directors Wendy Read, Tanya McConnell, Bob Robinson, Tom Warner, Jody Harter, Michael Chalmers and Doreen Larson. Bob Robinson is also Program Coordinator for the after school program.
Program enrollment remains relatively stable at 57, according to Robinson, with a daily range between 25-40 students. A Greenville City School bus was put into service, specifically to transport students to the program, Robinson said. Students are picked up first at East School, then at Woodland, and delivered to Edison State.
School Superintendent Doug Fries said the district is grateful for the service.
“The district thinks this is an opportunity for students to get additional help and intervention with their academic instruction,” he said. “We are appreciative of all those who are providing their extra time to assist and work with students through this academic intervention program.”
While the program is free, all volunteers, including college students, have a specific set of guidelines to follow, and are qualified to help K-4 students with their math, spelling and basic reading skills, said Robinson. Some of the more experienced volunteers help with more challenging needs.
“We also have between one and three licensed professionals on site at all times,” he said. “Our volunteer standards are adapted from those used in the OSU Extension 4-H program. Security is tight. We follow the specific guidelines school districts have when using volunteers.”
To enable free enrollment, many are involved in sustaining the program. Edison State allows use of the facility at no charge, because the program is education – related and a strong community service, Robinson said.
“We solicit support from the community in the form of donations and fundraising. Parents bring in many of the snacks at this point. We recently received a United Way Grant to bring in more licensed professionals. If we expect to grow and reach more children, we need the consistency that both volunteers and licensed professionals can bring together,” Robinson said.
The program’s biggest challenge is having enough volunteers.
“Usually we’ll have one volunteer for three students. Our goal is one for every two. They work one-on-one when necessary, or float when possible. Younger students may only be working on numbers, words or letters or simply reading. Older students, when their homework is done, can often help. They are supervised and they love helping” Robinson said.
All children are different.
“Some kids struggle simply because they have no outside help, others struggle even with help at home. They learn differently and at different paces. Teachers can’t always address individual needs when they have 25 plus or minus children in their classrooms. We are the buffer for those children. This program benefits them, the parents and the community in the future.”
For more information, contact Empowering Darke County Youth at [email protected] or call Edison State Darke County Campus at 937-548-5546.