Aligning course offering with the needs and desires of the community is an ongoing project. In some cases the challenge is to offer classes in afterschool that expand on the strengths of the school…an art class (with 80 minute blocks of time) can allow a child who is learning to draw, the time and quiet and support to take that interest further.
Twenty-five years ago, the afterschool program at PS 9 began with a few children studying chess. The popularity of that offering led to interest in musical theater, cooking, a range of crafts classes. Over time, anything that parents or children expressed interest in was offered. Some of these things didn’t catch on but the best of them grew and improved over time. Today we’re very proud to offer hundreds of amazing classes across three sites, all of which have met with the approval of our students and families.
In the coming months, we looking to bolster our range of outdoor and nature offerings. We hope to bring together our Gardening classes, Plant Life in Central Park, Nature Photography, Landscape Drawing, Running, and Hiking into a unified program with age-appropriate classes for children from K to 5th grade.
The Arts and Athletics afterschool program extends and amplifies the curriculum in our partner schools. On the level of individual activities, we provide academic support, offer extended time for children to pursue interests discovered during the school day, or, quite often, expose children to activities like fencing, cooking, and inline skating that aren’t explored during the regular school day.
On another level, the program cultivates family involvement. Working parents who can’t pick up at 3 p.m. each day are able to pick up at 5:40 p.m. In this sense, we host “back to school night” every single day. This is actually a really big deal. Parents can get a fresh account of their child’s school day was and they can meet and speak with other parents that they would never see otherwise.
While our first aim is to offer really great classes with wonderful teachers, we know the importance of promoting a sense a community, the feeling that families are at home in their school.
Arts and Athletics employees an amazing group of instructors, many certified teachers and subject area specialists. In addition to expertise and enthusiasm for the classes they teach, they all share a deep commitment to working with children.
A number of our instructors are daytime teachers, paraprofessionals, or assistant teachers. Teaching in afterschool allows them to work in small groups with children who are interested in a specific topic.
As an organization, we work to cultivate a collegial atmosphere where instructors support each other and together create a learning environment that supports the children’s endeavors.