Students in the After the Bell program learn how to bake cupcakes during enrichment time Thursday. | Laura Pemberton

Archived Story

After the Bell improves academics

Published 12:08pm Friday, January 25, 2013

The After the Bell program is not your average after school program.

“This after school program makes a difference,” said Julie Goree, program coordinator.

“We’re inspiring kids to learn, keeping them safe and helping working families.”

The After the Bell program held from 3:30-5 p.m. at Radney Elementary seeks to “help children to be the best they can be” by providing academic help, enrichment opportunities and recreation for students in grades 3 through 8.

The program provides students the opportunity to participate in archery, robotics, cooking, tumbling lessons, swimming lessons and gardening. Students are also given daily gym time for games and activities like flag football and volleyball.

Goree said the program also frequently features guest speakers and programs like “Kids in the Kitchen,” which teaches children about healthy eating.

While recreation and enrichment opportunities abound at After the Bell, Goree said academics are top priority with daily time dedicated to homework completion and reading and math improvement.

“When (students) get home there is no reason they should have any homework,” Goree said. “They can work on homework from 3:30-5:30 p.m. if they need to.”

Goree said the program utilizes SuccessMaker, an interactive multimedia course, which can advance students’ scores up to a grade level if they complete 25 hours of instruction.

Tina Pemberton, a math and science teacher at Radney Elementary and tutor for the After the Bell program, said she has seen significant improvements.

“There’s a lot of growth with the children I teach that attend the After the Bell program,” Pemberton said. “One child improved nearly a grade level.”

Pemberton’s aid to students with homework not only serves to improve their grades, but also their self-esteem.

“I work with them on their homework so they have a chance to ask for help,” Pemberton said. “Since they know their answers are right and they understand the concept, it gives them the confidence to raise their hand in class the next day – when they might not ever have before. It means so much to see them improve.”

Ellen Martin, Director of Student Services for Alexander City schools, said the grant-funded program has made a huge difference in the community.

“It has definitely made an improvement in the lives of a lot of children,” Martin said. “It has especially helped children who may not have had anywhere to go before mom and dad got off of work. Now they have a supervised learning environment to go to and they love it.”

The cost for the After the Bell program is $25 per month, and applications are available at all Alexander City schools.