Shawnee Public Schools has been reaping the benefits of an after-school program this school year, thanks to a grant it received in the fall.

Shawnee Public Schools has been reaping the benefits of an after-school program this school year, thanks to a grant it received in the fall.

The district was awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant.

Director Vickie Penson, principal at Jefferson Elementary, said the grant is a three- to five-year program: $300,000 will be awarded each year for the first three years; then 80 percent for the fourth year; and 60 percent the fifth year.

She said, “It is an extremely competitive grant in which you must meet strict criteria to be awarded the grant and then also to keep it.”

Grantees must participate in at least a yearly self evaluation of the grant and meet at least quarterly with a committee to evaluate the program, she said.

She said the program is called Super, Powerful, Sharp Kids (SPS Kids).

The SPS Kids after-school programs are housed at Horace Mann and Jefferson Elementary Schools, she said.

Students attend the program from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the school year and 8 a.m. to noon for four weeks in June for summer programs.

She said students are taught by certified teachers, teaching assistants, and university education majors, as well as special programs from community partners and artists in residence.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center program assists students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools in meeting academic standards in core subjects by providing services to students and their families during out-of-school hours.

Students receive an after school snack, homework/tutoring help, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math (STEAM) enrichment activities as well as physical education and health opportunities.

“The SPS Kids Program is a good thing for our students and families,” Penson said.

Grantees partner with community agencies to provide a variety of services to students and families.

Shawnee Public Schools have partnered with Gateway Prevention and Recovery, Community Renewal, Gordon Cooper STEM, and Mission Shawnee.

Penson said partners help with a variety of services:

• Gateway Prevention and Recovery offers Sports and Arts Camp during the summer, as well as Mentors and service projects

• Community Renewal offers Student Clubs Strong Girls Shawnee (SGS), Young Men's Club (YMC), and Jefferson Leadership Club (JLC). Clubs are for fifth-grade students and provide mentors and community guest speakers. Clubs also participate in field trips such as The Science Museum and Thunder games.

Community Renewal also coordinates and hosts dinners for families in our school district neighborhoods. In addition, they provide an area in their office for parents to job search and fill out applications on line with assistance if needed.

• Gordon Cooper STEM coordinator, Missy Dominy, provides STEM training for teachers and teaches STEM activities in the after school program as an artist in residence.

• Mission Shawnee provides tutoring services for the Horace Mann after school program.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.