When Minor Elementary Principal Scott Frandsen heard that a nearby school had an extraordinary after-hours program, he wanted to offer the same option to his students in Lilburn.
“I was super excited to learn about it,” said Frandsen, who’s led the 1,100-student school for three years. “I’m always looking for ways to get extra time with our kids. And an after-school program is also a benefit for parents.”
The program that launched last October at Minor is officially dubbed the SCANA Energy Homework Center and is remarkable for two outstanding factors. First, it provides additional learning support and cultural enrichment for identified students who are invited to attend, and second, SCANA funds the salaries of the instructors.
“It also allows us to use our own teachers who know our students,” said Frandsen. “They can give our students extra time with the curriculum. It also gave us a budget to bring in outside agencies for enrichment. We’ve had the Puppetry Arts Center come in, and recently, we had members of the Atlanta United soccer team come out and run soccer drills.”
To launch the program, teachers looked at student assessments to determine who might benefit most from additional attention. Invitations went out, and 26 fourth- and fifth-graders signed up to meet from 4 to 6 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday throughout the school year. The schedule includes snacks and some exercise time, but the focus is on instruction. And the result after one year have been positive, said Frandsen.
“Particularly in math, we’ve seen growth in the majority of students,” he said. “Probably 90 percent have improved. Language arts skills have improved about 60 percent. That’s often the last thing to develop since a lot of our students are language learners.”
The Minor Elementary program is one of nine funded by SCANA at schools with demonstrated needs, said Simone McKinney, the energy company’s media and community relations manager.
“We look at the list of Title I schools where there’s a great need, then we work with community leaders, as well as parents and teachers who recommend students for the program,” she said. “The goal is to help students with homework assignments and developing study skills, and to improve grades in math and English in a secured, supervised environment. At Minor, they’ve got the test scores in, and they’re improving already.”
SCANA launched the program in the metro area in 1998, the year it entered the market. “It’s part of our commitment to education and supporting communities,” said McKinney. “We fund the teachers’ salaries and pay for the snacks and the teachers’ assistants. I’ve been with SCANA 17 years, and this is one of my favorite programs because we really see students improving.”
Frandsen expects the program to grow in the upcoming year. “It takes a while for the word to get out, but my goal is to let people know about it and to get it as big as it possibly can be.”
Information about Minor Elementary is online at gcpsk12.org/MinorES. Details about SCANA’s community programs can be found at scanaenergy.com.
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