CARE Comes to Elementary Schools

CARE Comes to Elementary Schools
Posted on 12/24/2015

By Tamara Mills, Coordinator of Instruction for Health, Physical Education, and the Fine Arts, as well as the 2007 Worcester County Teacher of the Year

This year Worcester County Public Schools will offer four 21st Century Community Learning Centers held at several elementary schools throughout the county.  The county was recently awarded a highly competitive 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant (CCLC) for Pocomoke, Snow Hill, and Buckingham Elementary schools.  Berlin Intermediate School was also awarded a grant for their fourth grade students.

The Afterschool Program, named CARE (College/Career & Assessment Readiness for Everyone), offers academic support in the areas of reading and math, STEM, music, art, physical activity, and enrichment opportunities in LEGO robotics with the assistance of our grant partner, the University of Maryland Extension Office. The schools have just completed their first of three sessions offered this year. The next session will start during the first week of January.

The grant is funded by USDE and the Maryland State Department of Education.  The qualifications for the grant require that each school provide a safe, healthy environment for students who participate in the program and offers a light snack or dinner to students. Then, they are off to homework help with highly qualified teachers.  Academic help in reading and math are offered as well as enrichment activities Monday through Thursday.  The learners have the opportunity to shine in a less restrictive, small group setting using engaging project-based learning.

 Other areas of focus include service learning, family engagement, character education, and enrichment. As part of the service learning model, the schools use MSDE’s seven best practices that include: recognizing a need within the community, developing curriculum objectives, responsibility, community partnerships, planning, reflection and equipping students with the skills and knowledge to complete the task. Families are also considered partners and the schools look forward to feedback provided by family members as to areas of need. Many families attend “Parent Night” or “Lights On” Programs that are offered for parents to learn about new academic standards or see highlights from an enrichment class.  Character Education is also offered as part of the program and topics are focused on anti-bullying, manners, and friendship building.

As part of the enrichment component, each school offers a variety of fun, exciting, and challenging classes which include dramatic poetry, a boys club, Marvelous Math Magicians, Cozy Creatures, and an educational unit all about Chocolate!  Pocomoke Elementary third grader, Liberty Walker was asked why she wanted to register for the CARE Academies.  “I signed up because I know I want to do something with my life.  I want to change the world and improve myself.  So far, CARE has taught me a lot of things and my grades are better!”

Each school will offer classes based on the needs of their students to help increase academic success.  The countywide assessment tool that will be used to chart progress for the CARE grant is iReady.  iReady is an online, adaptive program with diagnostic capabilities that provides an instructional toolkit for teachers with resources to assist students. 

To find out more about the CARE Program in your area, please contact me at the Worcester County Board of Education at 410-632-5031.