As the Beaver Falls School District headed back to full in-person instruction for the final nine weeks, Neighborhood North’s Learning Pods transitioned from a full-day program to an afterschool program serving students in Kindergarten through second grade. Our Reading Labs operated three days a week, Tuesdays through Thursdays from 3:00-6:00 pm, and focused on strengthening students’ reading and math skills. Supplemental programming through Geneva College’s CSE students, music and drumming, and a water conservation program through 4H created a fun environment for afterschool learning and play. Duquesne University’s Department of Occupational Therapy’s Community Engaged Learning (CEL) students worked with our Reading Lab during their summer session. They adapted a 5-week program into a virtual context designed to include social skills, problem-solving, stress management, self-expression (verbal, written, art) as they learned to effectively lead therapeutic groups. It has been such a fantastic experience to work with a variety of college students throughout this school year. We are grateful for the different perspectives they bring to our students and are sure the experiences have been rich for them, as well.
Neighborhood North has amazing staff who work hard to create a caring and supportive environment for our learners. One of the things our teaching artist, Dennis Garner (Live City Entertainment, LLC), has implemented during this time, has been to put our motto to a beat and make it into a song for the kids, with a separate version for the K-2nd grade and the 3rd-5th grade group. They decided to begin the afterschool time together each day by having each group chant/sing their song to the other group in a “sing-off”. They found that this daily practice not only helped the kids remember the “rules” or values of the space but helped to create a real atmosphere of camaraderie among its members. The arts do that.
We are convinced that arts education is an essential part of how kids learn and that more funding needs to be allocated towards the arts, both in our schools and in our arts education spaces within the community. Now is the time to advocate for arts education! “On March 12, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This legislation includes a substantial round of Elementary and Secondary Relief funding (ESSER). This third round of ESSER funding, ESSER III, totals $126,000,000,000 for K-12 education. We’ve literally never typed so many zeros before!!! This will provide districts with nearly eight times the normal amount of dollars they would have to spend in their fiscal year between 2021 and 2024.” (Arts Education Collaborative, 5/2021). Neighborhood North is proud to be one of the 25 partner organizations supporting the Arts Education Collaborative’s recommendations for arts education investment with school leadership.
Our Reading Labs came to an end on May 25th, and we are currently busy ramping up for summer programming and planning for the completion of the museum space. We have so many people and organizations to thank for helping us to support our Beaver Falls students throughout this school year. It has taken a village, and so THANK YOU to the following partners and supporters:
ALL of our many volunteers!!!
Big Beaver Falls School District
Beaver County Children & Youth Services
Portage Learning/Nursing ABC
First Presbyterian Church, Beaver
Arts Education Collaborative
Geneva College Speech Pathology and CSE
Duquesne University Occupational Therapy Program
RAND Pittsburgh/ CRPE
Penn State Beaver Ext - Beaver County 4H
RiverWise/Beaver County COG
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