Wayne Post
  • Compass program to be expanded in Newark

  • The highly-successful, after school Compass Program at Newark Middle School will not only continue for another three years, but is being expanded this fall to include elementary grades.

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  • The highly-successful, after school Compass Program at Newark Middle School will not only continue for another three years, but is being expanded this fall to include elementary grades.
    Retiring Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Yvonne Saner, who is working this summer to help prepare for the new school year, said the extension and expansion of the program is due to a three-year, $3.6 million federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant being cooperatively awarded to Newark, Lyons, North-Rose Wolcott and Clyde Savannah school districts.
    Having applied for the grant as a consortium, the districts will divide $1.2 million each year to fund their individual programs.
    In Newark, the Compass Program has been running both an after school and summer program at Newark Middle School and in September will be expanded to include Kindergarten through fifth grades.
    The program is designed to enhance interest in learning by providing academic support and enrichment opportunities in English Language Arts and math and a wide array of interesting activities and programs.
    More than 300 NMS pupils have participated in the program during the last three years and participation has steadily increased each year. Nearly 75 students are participating each day this summer.
    Former Lincoln School Principal Cindy Russell, who has served as site coordinator of the program for the last three years and who has decided not continue in the role this next year, is pleased that the program has not only received a new round of funding, but will be expanded.
    “I think a lot of kids would have been very upset if the program had not received funding,” Russell said. “The program has been successful and has grown. I think we have made a really positive difference.’’
    During the school year, the Compass Program has been divided in three sessions — fall, winter and spring. Each day after school, students who were registered in the program, had a half-hour social time during which they a snack in the cafeteria and could talk with friends. The next hour was devoted to academics either in “Homework Harbor” or math or ELA enrichment activities from 3 to 4 p.m.
    The last 90 minutes of the schedule, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., was devoted to a wide choice of enrichment activities and programs. Depending on the day, activities could include pottery-making, healthy cooking and baking, martial arts, Zumba, Fun and Fitness, community service-related activities and more.
    Compass Program students are not required to participate each day or even for the full three hours each day.
    “They could attend only one activity a week if they liked,’’ Russell said. “The only requirement is that they be registered.”
    Russell said district staff helped students during the academic hour and various presenters, that could include either staff or representatives from outside agencies — were in charge of the 90-minute programs each day.
    Page 2 of 2 - The summer school Compass program runs Monday through Wednesdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 8:30 until sometime in the afternoon on Thursdays depending on the activities planned.
    Russell said activities involving parents have also been held four times each year and participation rate by parents has been great.
    Saner says she thinks the Compass Program has been motivating to kids and has helped a lot of students find new interests.
    And because of the myriad program offerings, she said many students have found new interests in things they may have never been exposed to without the Compass Program.
    “Our belief when we started the program is that it would give students an opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of enrichment activities and get them excited about learning,’’ Saner said. “And it has worked out well.’’
    Saner credited Russell and her staff for the success of the first three years of the program.
    “Cindy and her staff have done a phenomenal job. We couldn’t have asked for a bigger success story,’’ Saner said. “The more we connect kids to school, the better chance they have to stay with us and finish. This program has created more connections to learning for a group of students who didn’t have that connection before the program. It’s been a magnet.”
    She said the new site coordinator will oversee both the Middle School and  elementary Compass programs. The elementary program will likely be held at Perkins School.