Written by Shaina Budenbender, AmeriCorps member at Horace Cureton Elementary School
The success of City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley’s Expanded Learning Time program is dependant largely on two things: 1) AmeriCorps members’ dedication to the academic enrichment and socio-emotional learning of their students, and 2) the engagement of families in the work we do with their students every day. The Alum Rock Unified School District has prioritized parent engagement as one of their main goals for the 2014-2015 school year, and CYSJ has already felt the benefits of sharing our impact with the families we serve.
The Horace Cureton Elementary City Year team recently held their first Student Showcase for their Expanded Learning Time program after school, with over 75 parents and family members present to support their students. Students showed off their work in both their grade level classes and clubs by performances, as well as gallery pieces displayed around the school cafeteria.
Monday through Thursday, students in City Year’s ELT program are separated by grade level, which enables them to learn and create projects based on their developmental abilities. The second grade AmeriCorps members at Horace Cureton Elementary, Ms. Libby and Ms. Olivia, have focused on socio-emotional learning for the past two months. By creating lessons centered on how to effectively identify and express their emotions and feelings, the AmeriCorps Members have noticed significant improvement in the conflict resolution skills and self-regulation of the second graders. For the showcase, the class displayed the “Feeling Faces” art project that they made. Parents and family members were also able to see a class quilt made by the third grade class, a world map made by fourth grade, and vignettes performed on stage by several students in the fifth grade class.
On Fridays, students in City Year’s ELT program participate in clubs, which last for six weeks. Cureton’s Computer club embraced its school’s location in the Silicon Valley and the importance of preparing students for the 21st century. Mr. Kurt and his students showed off the Birthday Invitations his club made while learning to use Microsoft Word at the showcase. “Instilling a sense of pride in the region that these children come from can help inspire their creativity and think of their future as being successful, but close to their roots,” Kurt Bognar an AmeriCorps Member from Missouri said. “Let’s use the resources we have to teach these kids to teach themselves. There is a wealth of knowledge on Wikipedia alone, so once these kids can read, we can help them cultivate their interests.”
There were also impressive castles made out of clay on display from the Medieval club, and dance performances from the Zumba and Culture and Dance clubs. In our Community Heroes club, students learned the meaning of community and how our actions can improve the communities we are a part of. By engaging in a Campus Beautification project (or trash pick-up day) and writing letters of gratitude to those serving in the United States Armed Forces overseas, the Cureton Community Heroes got a chance to serve their school community and acknowledge those who serve our broader American community.
The showcase gave the students the opportunity to share their work with their families, and allow AmeriCorps members to share the joy of their service. We look forward to furthering the goal of engaging families in their student’s education.
2nd grade AmeriCorps Members focused on socio-emotional learning, and taught students how to express their feelings
3rd grade AmeriCorps Members had a quilt unit, and made a class quilt which represented students from different experiences coming together. They also did an animal unit on polar animals, and had their penguins on display.
4th grade focused learning about different countries and continents. They made a class map to show all that they learned. They also have class binders, with various pictures and activities inside.