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Franklin County 21st Century Community Learning Center attains grant for after-school, summer programs

The Alabama State Department of Education has awarded Franklin County’s 21st Century Community Learning Center a $150,000 grant to help refund the after-school and summer programs for Belgreen, Tharptown and Vina schools serving students in grades Pre-K through 12th. The Franklin County Board of Education is the fiscal agent for the programs with Dr. Susan Hargett as the director. Assisting her are Heather Darracott, data and activities facilitator, and Carla Hutto, parenting and curriculum facilitator.

21st Century Community Learning Centers for all Franklin County Schools have been in operation since 2001 and have served thousands of students and their families with after-school and summer care while introducing quality academic and enrichment programs in STEM, the arts and recreation activities. The schools and communities served include Belgreen, East Franklin, Phil Campbell, Red Bay, Tharptown and Vina. Each year hundreds of children and family members are involved.

The grant enables the program to provide students and their families with opportunities to develop academic skills, safety and enrichment opportunitie,s as well as to provide families parenting, job readiness and lifelong learning skills.

The program’s focus will be on helping students to “Be Your Best Self,” involving five core areas of concentration: Be Your Best Self academically, Be Your Best Self in school attendance, Be Your Best Self in behavior, Be Your Best Self through family involvement and Be Your Best Self through STEM education.

Students attending the program are involved with enrichment opportunities with hand-on instruction in the areas of STEM, dance, musical theatre, and robotics, service learning projects and prevention activities, as well as given assistance in completing daily homework. Summer field trips to educational points of interest are an important part of the summer programs.

“We are excited to have been able to offer these services for the last 16 years to children and families,” Hargett said. “It is a remarkable opportunity for our school system to offer three hours of help for children and families each afternoon during the school year and fifty-five hours weekly in the summer. We have always striven to build our schedule around helping working parents to keep their children in a safe and structured learning and fun environment. In addition, some family classes are offered later in the evening.

“Our school system has always been so cooperative in partnering to provide facilities for our programs to meet in, and the Child Nutrition Program provides a daily after-school snack and, during the summer program, breakfast and lunch.” In addition, Hargett said, “plans are worked out for children who might have health or other special needs whenever possible. This has all been made possible through grants and a low weekly fee for attendance. ”

TRACKS boasts a collaborative agreement with the Franklin County Extension Office. Katernia Cole- Coffey, County Extension coordinator, has been a tremendous help in many of the activities and programs that Community Education and TRACKS has embarked upon. “We now have a representative, Lauren Barber, working at the Franklin County after-school sites who is working with STEM activities with the students,” Hargett added.
For more information call 256-331-0005.

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