Westwood resource center tailors Jack PAC to fit local students' needs
To protect Prop 49 funding, Elizabeth Krier, WFRC executive director and JackPAC administrator, and Melissa Huntsman, the children’s program coordinator for the WFRC, joined hundreds of their colleagues at the State Capitol for the Afterschool Challenge Rally Tuesday, May 20.
Krier explained that there are some legislators who want to put Prop 49 back on the ballot so the money could be used for other areas of need.
Once this funding became available, the number of after-school programs doubled with most initiated in high poverty communities. These programs are especially beneficial to working families because 60 percent of school-age children are in households where both parents work.
The rally in Sacramento, which was sponsored by the California School-Age Consortium, began with a meeting of after-school professionals at the Sheriton Hotel. Following the meeting, individuals had a chance to speak with legislators and their staff members.
Krier said she and Huntsman met with a staff member from the office of Assemblymen Rick Keene, a staff member from the office of Senator Abel Maldonado and Assemblyman Roger Niello.
A noontime rally was held on the Capitol lawn. There were a variety of speakers including children who participate in the after-school programs throughout the state.
According to Krier there is no immediate threat to JackPAC funding because several steps would need to be completed before Prop 49 went back to the voters. However, both Krier and Huntsman view it as a very valuable program.
To keep it strong they attended two conferences in April to get new curriculum and staff development ideas. One was a conference sponsored by the California School-Age Consortium and the second a national conference titled Best of Out of School Time.
“The core of what we are doing will stay the same, but we are trying to bring in new inspiration and ideas. When you work in education or anything with kids it is important to learn what is new and to stay updated,” explained Krier.
Krier said they want to do more staff development with training on classroom management and how to bring enthusiasm to the activities. She participated in many workshops to learn how to inspire and engage staff.
Also she took workshops on preparing reports for the state on the use of the Prop 49 funding as well as finding grants and doing fundraisers.
Huntsman said she attended workshops on aligning school activities with state standards and turning curriculum into lesson plans.
Although after-school programs are structured, they are not an extension of the school day and it is important to keep them exciting so children will want to participate. Krier said they were able to find new curriculum, such as a Tiger Woods’ character-development program that focuses on community service and building self-esteem. Also they brought back new equipment, such as rhythm sticks.
A lot of the ideas for the after-school program teach children skills or help them develop interests that will be valuable later in life, said Krier. For example beading could result in a career of jewelry making or a lifelong hobby.
A year old, JackPAC is in the process of being fine-tuned. Krier said its goal is to help teachers by finding new and creative ways to reinforce their lesson plans in the after school activities.
Currently the WFRC works from Fletcher Walker Elementary School facilities. To thank the teachers who have offered their classrooms for activities, JackPAC offered to purchase something to aid their teaching efforts. Jane Medici provided a list of items needed for her kindergarten curriculum and Pat Costa, the second-grade teacher, asked that the funds be used to purchase some new chairs for the computer lab.
Krier and Huntsman will continue to work on JackPAC throughout the summer to incorporate the new ideas they brought back from the April conferences.
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