Originally created 11/29/03

Grant creates school project



Five after-school programs preparing to open in select Richmond County schools will educate both the child and the parent.

A $3.3 million federal grant will fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers project at Craig-Houghton, W.S. Hornsby and A. Dorothy Hains elementary schools; East Augusta Middle School; and Lucy C. Laney High School.

School officials want to raise test scores, improve homework completion and increase the number of pupils involved in extracurricular activities. They also want to reduce dropout rates and remediation problems encountered by most underprivileged children.

The title of the project is FAMILY, or Family Academics for Mentoring Innovative Life and Youth Development.

"Children will improve academic skills in reading and math. Families will further their understanding of the process of schooling in the 21st-century education, thus empowering families to fulfill their role as the child's first teacher," said Dr. Audrey Wood, Richmond County's director of curriculum.

About 93 percent of those expected to participate are educationally and economically disadvantaged, and 92.6 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

The program is part of the No Child Left Behind school-reform movement. The five schools are on the state's needs-improvement list because pupils failed to make adequate yearly progress. Dr. Wood said the project includes a strong reading and math component and will educate the children throughout the year, helping to boost scores.

In addition, relatives who have not earned a high school diploma will have access to resources to help them earn a General Education Development certificate. Organizers want to teach families the long-range preparation process required for higher education opportunities so they can spread it to future generations.

"The project will plant the seeds for believing in the value of education and the value of public schools," Dr. Wood said.

The district is seeking applicants for several positions funded by the five-year grant: district project coordinator, school site coordinator, program assistant and secretary/bookkeeper.

The school district's previous applications for the grant were rejected three times when funding was based on whether a school system was in an empowerment or enterprise zone.

"This current round of grant awards placed major emphasis on academic achievement progress (and) income status," Dr. Wood said.

In addition, this year's project centered on districts that wanted a strong focus and a good plan for producing sustainable change for the quality of life for children and families, she said.

Families participating in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers will have several benefits:

  • Activities such as golf, swimming, technology classes, music programs and career counseling
  • Early mentoring from high school and college students to provide positive role models, life skills and positive peer pressure
  • Courses for parents to upgrade work force skills and make achievements in literacy and GED attainment
  • College exposure through visits, tutoring, sports, arts and enrichment activities
  • Summer programs with unique camp experiences, family socialization and transitional grade-level adjustments
  • Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com. PROGRAM BENEFITS