Carter County after school program draws praise from Education Committee members

John Thompson • Jan 7, 2020 at 9:28 PM

ELIZABETHTON — While the Carter Country Commission’s Education Committee usually focuses on what happens during the school day, Sonya Miller provided details of what is taking place in the schools after the last bell has rung.

Miller is the program director for the after-school programs in the Carter County School System. She provided the committee with the details of a program that covers most of the elementary schools and all of the high schools in the system, not with just a play time until parents arrive to pick the students up. She described a program that has the goal of extending the learning time for students who are spending some extra time in school.

Miller said the programs are funded differently, with the federal government providing the funds for high school programs and the state providing the funding for the elementary school programs.

She said a total of 295 elementary students attended at least 30 days of their programs, while 118 high school students attended their programs. The two programs have the same top priority for students attending which is that “all students will reach high academic standards at a minimum (while) attaining a proficiency or bettering reading/language arts and mathematics.”

To reach this standard, Miller said elementary students who are struggling receive tutoring and homework assistance daily. She said surveys went out to parents at the start of school, which indicated the majority wanted their children to complete their homework during the after-school period.

For high school students, each school has established book clubs. The students work as a group to read novels and complete activities related to the novel as a group. Homework assistance and tutoring are given to struggling students. Miller reported that the extra help was significant, with 76 percent of the students who were tutored in math showing improved test scores, while 86 percent of students tutored in English/language arts showed improvements.

In addition to feeding the minds of the students after they had finished a day in school, Miller said the program also provides a nutritious snack for them.

Miller did not have to convince many of the committee members. Layla Ward said her child thoroughly enjoyed the after-school program and asked her not to pick him up early. Nancy Brown said she had already heard glowing comments about the program from her constituents.

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