Society

Having some 21st Century fun

RISD’s Texas ACE program giving kids that little bit extra
By MARIE BAKKEN
Reporter Staff Writer


From L- R, Jennifer Collazo, Blanca Reyes, Angela Cardona and Ke’ira Moore pull up radishes from raised beds planted as par t of Junior Ma ster Gardener program at Rockdale Intermediate School. 
Photos courtesy of Rockdale ISD From L- R, Jennifer Collazo, Blanca Reyes, Angela Cardona and Ke’ira Moore pull up radishes from raised beds planted as par t of Junior Ma ster Gardener program at Rockdale Intermediate School. Photos courtesy of Rockdale ISD When Rockdale ISD received their first 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Program grant in 2006 from the Texas Education Agency, no one at the school knew what a huge and productive impact that funding would have on its students, and the teachers involved.

Despite statewide education funding issues, Rockdale ISD was recently awarded another five year 21st Century grant for the Texas Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) program, but this time for each of its four campuses.

Current 21st CCLC Coordinator Susan Boyd has overseen the district’s grant efforts for the past two years and is welcoming the extra funds and help.

“I’m looking forward to getting together with (new) coordinators and sharing ideas,” Boyd said.


Jaycie Tannahill, K’Lynn Lange, and Cierra Starr play a math game on iPods during a tutorial class. Jaycie Tannahill, K’Lynn Lange, and Cierra Starr play a math game on iPods during a tutorial class. Each campus will have its own program coordinator, rather than just one for the entire district, allowing students Pre-K through 12th to benefit from this program.

The activities for the past two years have really been at the Rockdale Intermediate School because that is where Boyd is located.

WHO GETS TO GO—Students are invited to attend ACE on recommendations by classroom teachers, specialists, ECC findings and parent request. Siblings are usually invited as well to the two-hour after school program which is offered Monday through Thursday during the school year.

Sometimes the kids ask to join—if there is room, we try to accommodate, Boyd said.

There are anywhere from 50 to 120 kids a day during the school year in the ACE program.


Stepha nie Ceja conce ntrates to keep dice balanced for one minute as part of the “Minute to Win It” ses - sion, based on the popular TV show. Stepha nie Ceja conce ntrates to keep dice balanced for one minute as part of the “Minute to Win It” ses - sion, based on the popular TV show. “We do lots of hands on, moving stuff in the after-school program,” Pam Kaufmann, RISD assistant superintendent for administration and instruction, said. “We try to build some of that background knowledge that they may not have.” Rockdale ISD’s ACE program offers components in tutorials, homework, enrichment and nutrition/fitness.

TUTORIALS—Teachers make tutorials fun with games using Smartboards, iPods and one-on-one attention.

“The smaller class sizes gives the teachers a chance to do more with the kids,” Boyd said.

During the tutorials session, which are held in the beginning section of the after-school program, students are offered help in different subject areas. Sessions in math and reading are held daily for each grade level.


Brothers Mat thew and Zach Nesbit, show off sunglasses they de sign ed during an ar ts and crafts sessio n. Brothers Mat thew and Zach Nesbit, show off sunglasses they de sign ed during an ar ts and crafts sessio n. Tutor ia l mini- blit zes are offered at semester end and pre- TAKS time, inviting other students who are not in the program that extra push they need.

Rockdale ISD teachers and specialists stay after the workday to provide instruction for tutorials based on subject material being covered and TAKS objectives.

HOMEWORK—Students are given time to complete homework daily during the school week. Morning homework time takes place in the cafeteria during breakfast, giving those who need it 40 minutes to complete homework.

Paper, pencils, textbooks and other materials are available for student use—it is available to every student, Boyd said.

ENRICHMENT— Activities are provided as extensions of student learning through a variety of different sessions and demonstrations. Students rotate through activities within a semester.

Recent activities include: math games, multicultural awareness, gardening, sports—such as soccer, basketball and volleyball, cooking, etiquette, computers, dance and karaoke.

In the fall of 2009, students participated in the baking of about 50 pumpkin pies. Orders were taken from RISD staff members. Students made pie crusts from scratch. Money mad efrom the pie saleswere donated to the an nual Rockdale Christ mas Round- up.

Jun ior Ma ster Gardene rs has been a par t of the ACE program for the past th ree years, under the superv ision of adult volunteer Renee Sadler.

NUTRITI ON/ FITNESS— Stud ents aregiven ahealthy snack each day at the begi nning of ACE .

Students have a physical activ- ity each day—on playground or in gym—perhaps a game of knockout on the basketball court, jump roping, volleyball elimination, tossing a frisbee or hopscotch on the sidewalk.

SUMMER PROGR AM—A summer camp is also offered through the 21st Century grant with 80 to 100 students participating in the Summer Camp 2010 held last June.

Ten RISD employees worked with the kids on activities including reader’s theater, science experiments, arts and crafts, math games and physical fitness, Boyd said.

VOLUNTEERS—“ We are looking for volunteers to share knowledge with students all the time,” Boyd said.

The program will only continue to work well through continued support of school officials and community involvement.

“ We encourage parents and community members to come volunteer with kids to share their skills and talents of ‘dying arts’,” Kaufmann said.

NEW GRANT—Rockdale ISD has been awarded a new 21st CCLC grant of over $500,000 for each of it four campuses for the next five years.

It brings a little bit of bragging rights to RISD as only 40 campuses throughout the state were given the grant money and Rockdale boasts four of them.

“I think its because we run such a great program each year,” Kaufmann said.

There are compliances and perimeters on how the money is spent and strict oversight from the TEA, who sends an auditor to the district twice a year.

RISD has received top marks every year thus far.

With the new grant, RISD will be able to offer help in academics and enrichment to all of its students district-wide.

“The program is going to look a lot different at each campus,” Kaufmann. She noted that with advancing technology, the junior high and high school programs will have almost limitless possibilities.


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