Behind the Scenes
Trial and Error
The program was up and running and the staff fine-tuned the design of the program. In the beginning, when students arrived, they started with a physical activity, but then it proved difficult to collect everyone and settle down into homework. Homework help moved up on the schedule, making it the first priority of the afternoon. During this stage, the staff also began meeting monthly to discuss staffing, communication, and training.
Now in its second year, the program is working well, achieving its goals, and growing quickly. Other schools in the district look to Sparks as a model. Staff members are focused on managing the program's growth while also expanding the enrichment offerings to attract new students. With a bigger program, staff and leadership needs are evolving. Sparks continues to receive federal funding for a 21st Century Community Learning Center, which is channeled through an independent agency. This allows staff to make program and staffing decisions independent of the school district.