Program Profile: Quincy Public School District 21st CCLC

Although academic enrichment is a given in any 21st CCLC program, aligning programming with the school-day while allowing students a flexible environment for learning and personal enrichment is not. Yet this is the focus of Quincy Public Schools (QPS) 21st CCLC program. Serving more than 150 students at the Quincy Junior High site and more than 100 students at the Quincy High School School site, 21st CCLC staff aim to create a setting where students know they can come for a range of supports, including academic. 

Afterschool staff, many of whom are teachers at the school sites, recruit students for the program and get their input early in the school year. “Staff begin the year by having conversations with students [about] their needs, apprehensions, and goals. . . . They see that the afterschool staff want to work with them,” says Kate Schumacker, the site coordinator at Quincy Senior High School. These conversations shape the programming every year and also lay the foundation for a rapport among staff and students.

Carol Frericks, who serves as the 21st CCLC’s director, describes academic programming as an enhancement of the classroom. Students can choose to work on class projects or make up work, including credit recovery courses for high school students. Students also have the option of working ahead on projects, which allows students and teachers alike to anticipate challenges in a project or simply have more time. 

The afterschool program's flexibility, small-group work, and activities that address students' different learning styles help ensure they get help without feeling like they are simply doing more of what they did in the classroom. “In the afterschool program, we can offer help to students in a different format,” says Frericks, “access to the teacher, the amount of time you spend on something, having your individual questions answered, and peer-to-peer support.” Program staff also take a formative approach to academic enrichment. If instructors realize that an enrichment strategy isn’t working for a student, they can easily switch gears and try a different approach.

The QPS 21st CCLC team members see the hiring of school-day teachers as afterschool instructors as key to a successful academic enrichment program. “Teachers know what the students need to work on and . . . can help with the subject matter. The students feel comfortable with the staff since they already know them,” says Lisa Schwartz, site director at Quincy Junior High School. Teachers who serve as afterschool instructors participate in school-day professional development, including weekly professional learning community (PLC) meetings. The afterschool instructors can convey information from PLC meetings to their afterschool colleagues so the information can inform 21st CCLC programming. Information flows both ways with the PLC, as afterschool instructors often share information about challenges that students are experiencing. Such feedback can allow school-day teachers to reexamine and refine classroom strategies.

In addition to integrating school-day and afterschool staff, the two groups also share data. The 21st CCLC team has access to the district’s curriculum management system so they can share information about lessons, assignments, and student progress. The schools and afterschool program also share information about student attendance in school and afterschool so that all stakeholders can work to ensure students are participating and getting the support they need.

While academic enrichment is a core component of the program, both 21st CCLC sites offer a range of extracurricular activities, including arts programming, community service, cooking classes, and archery lessons to name a few. The program also aims to help students make connections between their education and future opportunities through trips to nearby colleges and universities and participation in the courses and programming at the Quincy Area Vocational Technical Center. Finally, the 21st CCLC also offers social and emotional learning, recognizing that not all barriers to learning are academic. “Whether they are academic or emotional, we see challenges as learning opportunities,” says Frericks.

QPS 21st CCLC also provides summer programming, which targets students at risk of retention or not graduating with their peers. In the summer of 2017, the 21st CCLC offered a 4-week summer academy for seventh- and eighth-grade students and an 8-week academy for high school students. The academies provided targeted academic support for all students and credit recovery for high school students, supported by attendance incentives, morning meetings to motivate students to give their best effort, and regular communication with parents. The program reported that 39 of the 50 seventh-grade students who attended were removed from the retention list by growth in the summer school program, while the same was true for all 50 of the eighth-grade students who attended. The 140 students who attended the high school academy collectively recovered 202 credits.

Effective academic enrichment takes time to develop. Now in its second grant cycle, QPS 21st CCLC applies continuous improvement practices to afterschool programming, including academic enrichment. Program staff interview students to get input on goals, interests, and satisfaction. Staff also review results from the program’s annual evaluation and other data to assess progress and set goals. Just as they do for academic enrichment activities, the QPS 21st CCLC team members take a formative approach to their program. All staff attend a monthly meeting where the team examines progress made towards goals and whether they need to make any changes.

At the heart of the program is a focus on students and the support they need. “One of the things that is wonderful about the program is that the people involved really listen to the kids and are in tune with them,” says Frericks.