An After-School Network Expands Learning Time for Middle School Students (Transcript)
Hillary: Providence is an old manufacturing community. A lot of the houses you're gonna see are really mill worker houses, which are struggling these days.
Narrator: Like many once great industrial centers, Providence, Rhode Island, has big problems.
Hillary: We have the third highest child poverty rate in America. What we're finding is a very high transiency rate with our students, because they're moving around and extremely vulnerable.
Narrator: Hillary Salmons and her colleagues have been doing something to better the lives of Providence youth since two thousand and four, when they created the Providence After School Alliance, or PASA.
Woman: And you can reach inside and you can pet the cats. Cats like to be pet like this.
Narrator: PASA is a network of organizations that delivers high quality after school programs for middle schoolers, connecting them to community resources in different zones of the city. Offerings range from animal care to the arts.
Teacher: So guys, you need to print a different color today.
Narrator: From musical instruments, to scientific ones.
Man: This is what we use to test what's going on in the water, all right?
Narrator: PASA fulfilled a campaign pledge made by Providence mayor, David Cicilline.
David: It's premised on this simple idea of really taking responsibility as a community for children, from the moment they open their eyes in the morning, till the moment they go to bed at night, and connecting a whole network of opportunities and then applying very clear quality standards to those programs and collecting good data so we know what we're doing and whether it's having an impact. And the real key part of this has been partnerships.
Hillary: Thinking about some programming to bring the arts world in.
Narrator: The mayor helped convene some two hundred partners, including representatives from the schools, police and parks departments, who came together to assess their resources and develop a unified plan for their use.
David: We divided the city into AfterZones, and what they do is, they connect a middle school and a public library and a rec center and create really a campus of activities for kids, and a transportation system so the young people can move from the rec center to the library, and ensure that in each of these places, there are really enriching, really exciting programs that are aligned with the work that young people are doing in school.
Hillary: The core ingredient of an AfterZone is a unified schedule. Getting all of our YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, arts organizations, recs, departments and libraries to agree to a schedule that runs from two thirty to five on a four day basis, and enables us to bring in providers and sort of develop a plug and play program.
Narrator: After the logistics were resolved, PASA hired a social marketing firm to create a look and feel that would make the after school programs more appealing to urban middle school youth. And when working with existing resources, like a one hundred year old cafeteria, the key to cool was changing attitudes.
Alejandro: We don't repaint the place, we don't change the furniture. We basically change the vibe, the way adults treat young people. Instead of yelling at them and calling boys and girls, it's "Hey, how you doing?" by their name.
Alejandro: So it's about customer service, building that relationship with young people.
Tell me about your day.
Narrator: PASA also provides learning opportunities that most schools don't, like this martial arts class.
Brian: All right, let's go over a couple of things. Number one, guys, girls.
There's just something about the black belt and there's something about the martial arts, the mystique of it. And the younger kids, in the beginning, relate martial arts to strength and toughness, which it has nothing to do with.
Okay, does everybody remember a double back break fall?
It's actually the opposite. You're actually teaching them to respect the physicalness and do something with their frustration, or do something with their energy. So that's the thing I instill in these kids, and the philosophy on being a better person, you know. Being a black belt is one thing, but being a great person is everything.
Somebody walk me through this. What do I do?
Hillary: Kids just really connect when they see a hands on leader really electrified by what their passion is, and transferring that knowledge and skill over to them, and giving them a sense that, "I can actually do a roll on a mat and know how to protect myself if someone were to throw a punch."
Brian: Take it away, throw it, pit throw, hup! Perfect.
Hector: I've been here, 'cause I can make more friends. I learn fitness and everything that happened in school, I leave it behind, and I just come here to learn something different, and to do new things to protect yourself in the new world that they have outside.
Brian: Here I am, my inner strength. Here's my tiger, right?
Teacher: Don't forget, you roll your ink on your Breyer, then you roll it as evenly as you can on your plates.
Narrator: The nonprofit organization, Providence City Arts for Youth, offers this print making class.
Barbara: We're experiencing a diminishing amount of arts opportunities that are happening in schools, and so we're seeing an increased need in the out of school time hours to really try to provide those arts opportunities.
Teacher: Yes, so there wasn't any ink on your plate.
Barbara: More and more families are coming to social service agencies, or coming to us because they see the value of arts education. And so people are really reaching out to programs like City Arts, so that those opportunities can stay alive in their child's development.
Teacher: Hey, check it out, that came out so great, Diago.
What do you think?
Narrator: Children who live only blocks away from Narragansett Bay might never experience being out on the water, if not for PASA's Explore the Bay program.
Man: All right, so let's read another number here.
Twenty-six point three.
John: I like the program because I get to learn a lot about the ocean and the animals that live inside the ocean. And I learn more in the after school than I learn in school.
David: You know, we're not a city where lots of parents have the resources to go, you know, hire a teacher for a violin lesson, or go hire a tutor for something special. So if it doesn't happen in a system that we've built for them, it won't happen.
Man: Don't be afraid to let the beauty of the guitar tone shine through, see?
Narrator: PASA carefully monitors all of its programs with regular quality assessments and tracking software that records attendance trends. And PASA is proving successful. Attendance at their school sites is up, and Providence kids are choosing the AfterZones over the streets.
Dean: I have three children in this city. I've got twenty-six thousand children too, and they're all my children. And the same effort and concern that's put into raising my children by my wife and I needs to be put into raising all the children in this city. So we keep 'em busy after school. We keep 'em busy in the summertime. We keep 'em busy on the weekend. Works for my children, it would work for all children.
Rudy: One thing I really enjoy is to hear kids laughing, kids hearing playing, hearing kids having fun. And normally, our main focus is academics. Because of our structure, we don't have time for recess, we don't have time for breaks. What the AfterZone provides is an opportunity for them just to be kids.
Hillary: What we're really trying to do is get kids excited about coming to school so that they can participate in the after school, which is the social emotional fun stuff, as well as hands on learning that's relevant.
Man: You think anything in the water uses that oxygen?
Yeah, what in the water uses it?
Hillary: It's really about seeing the potential to make connections, seeing assets in your community everywhere, and having sort of a can do spirit that there's never enough that we can do for the kids.
Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to Edutopia.org