Learning is made fun at an after-school program at Moneta Elementary School.
The four-day-a-week program for students in the first through fifth grades offers homework assistance, educational activities, snacks, and events such as field trips and family nights. Students have the option of being picked up from the program by parents or guardians, or ride a bus home.
It is the second year that Moneta Elementary has offered the program, which is funded through a federal three-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. SML Good Neighbors is the school’s co-applicant. The program also has numerous community partners.
Kathy Smith is the after-school program’s site coordinator at Moneta Elementary School. Although the primary focus of the program is educational, there was a need for an after-school program because of a relative lack of childcare options in the Moneta area, she said.
There are about 85 students on the rolls. Teachers in the program are certified educators or are retired.
Angela White, is a gifted and talented teacher at Bedford County Public Schools, who also provides instruction in the after-school program.
According to White, a typical day may include a 20-minute reading period, homework, a lesson or an activity, games and recess. Special projects may include STEM activities, such as when a group of students created superheroes out of recycled materials.
“It’s more relaxed than regular school, and we like to say, they don’t realize that they’re actually learning something,” Smith said.
A project for fifth graders that incorporated math and geometry was the creation of a three-dimensional Moravian star, which was demonstrated by teacher Christine Richardson.
“It’s making math cool,” Richardson said. “It seems really complicated, but it’s not. That’s what’s so fun about it.”
Fifth-grader Tyler Witt said he enjoys the after-school program, “because I can get my homework done, and when I go home, I can have fun with my family.”
“It’s sort of like they put work into funness,” Tyler said.
According to Smith, the program aims to teach social skills in students and reinforce good behavior. The school system also plans to reapply for the grant.
“We’ve got a great group of students and a fantastic staff here,” Smith said. “I am so fortunate.”