Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Capstone Learning Center now open for business at WCHS

J-E Editor

Monday marked the official launch of Webster County’s new Capstone Learning Center (CLC), a 21st Century Learning Center created by a grant from the US Department of Education. CLC is designed to provide Webster County High School students access to enrichment activities that fall outside the normal scope of school-based programs.
A lesser discussed side of CLC is that it will entirely erase the need for summer school programs. Rather than having to attend make up classes during summer break, students can participate intercession sessions or attend for daily academic help.

“You can’t make students stay,” said Rhonda Callaway, district director of Secondary Instruction/DAC/CTE. “But in another school I was in a situation where we contracted with students to attend sessions. It entirely changed the culture of my high school. We saw improvements in attendance, behavior and grades.”

In the other district Callaway worked in, she said that athletics were one of the biggest supports of the program.

“My Coaches were key in making this work,” she said. “It is a good way to make sure that players stay eligible.”

With a session that meets daily prior to the start of school, players can attend CLC for academic help and still be free for after school practices.

CLC will be structured with one hour of academic work every morning before school, from 7:00 a.m. til 8:00 a.m., and then longer sessions four days after school. Monday and Wednesday sessions will last from 3:00 p.m. til 5:00 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday sessions will run from 3:00 p.m. til 6:00 p.m.

The afternoon sessions will consist of one hour of academic work, followed by enrichment clubs. Since the program was announced last school year, the discussion has centered around enrichment programs in aerospace, robotics, culinary arts and STEM, although the exact make-up of the programs will really be determined by the students who participate and the volunteers who work with the program.

While district personnel work to find instructors for robotics and aerospace, they are also seeking volunteers to assist in other programs areas. And those program areas are really open to interpretation. It could range from as formal as a photo journalism program, to a club that teaches basic everyday needs such as how to change a car tire.

It is as simple as matching the interest of students with the skills of volunteers. Community members are urged to contact the district office to volunteer.

The requirements of the 21st Century Learning grant are that clubs must meet outside the normal classroom schedule. There also must achieve at least 50 students who attend CLC sessions at least 30 times.

Callaway is confident that CLC will reach those numbers with little problem. There is no cap on the number of students who can participate, but only students currently enrolled at WCHS are eligible.

Heading up CLC is Rachel Heath, who was hired over the summer. She was previously a college and career coach with the Henderson County School system.

“This first week we will really just be felling the kids out to see what they are interested in,” she said. “One of our first programs will be ACT prep.”

CLC will also strive to involve parents in the programs as much as possible.

For students who ride the bus, limited bus transportation will be made available to students wishing to participate. Every afternoon following the enrichment clubs, busses will deliver students to the elementary school closest to their home.

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