Top photo: Erin Hutchins, director of the Albany Area YMCA’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, tells Kiwanis of Dougherty members about the program.
Bottom: From left, Kiwanians Chuck Darsey and Kevin Armstrong speak to Erin Hutchins about 21st CCLC following the meeting.
Children do better in the classroom when they develop the confidence to participate. According to Erin Hutchins, that’s the goal of Albany Area YMCA’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
Hutchins, director of the program who came to Albany in 2011, talked to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about 21st CCLC’s goals and how are they are being met on August 25. The program is administered with federal funds to establish community learning centers that operate during after regular school hours with three specific purposes: to provide opportunities for academic enrichment and tutorial services; to offer students a broad array of additional services, programs and activities to reinforce and complement the regular academic program; and, to offer families of 21st CCLC students opportunities for literacy and related educational development.
The overall goals are to improve student academic performance in reading and math as well as classroom performance and to increase parent participation in the educational process.
While the school year is underway, 21st CCLC didn’t start until after Labor Day. “The reason for that,” said Hutchins, “is so that teachers can test the children and see where these kids are” in their academic performance levels.
The learning centers are currently at Alice Coachman and Live Oak elementary schools in Albany, where classrooms can be used for the sessions, which run from 2:15 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. Work centers on things “to help children, to positively reinforce them and change their direction,” said Hutchins. They also focus on helping parents learn to communicate positively with children about their academic performance. (A new grant has just been obtained for the expanded program, which initially started at Magnolia Elementary School but had to re-locate when the Dougherty County School System decided to close that facility.)
“A parent calling a child stupid, that’s not acceptable,” Hutchins stated. “We’re trying to teach them how to communicate. That’s part of the YMCA mission, to help people be respectful and caring.”
While tutoring and break-out sessions are part of the program, field trips are also included. Previous outings have been to Wakulla Springs, Fla., the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, and the Butterfly House at Callaway Gardens.
“A lot of these kids have never left Albany, so they were really excited about this,” said Hutchins.
Public speaking classes are also offered to help boost students’ self-esteem. According to Hutchins, “There are quite a few children where you see quite a change because of their confidence level when they go into the classroom.”
The 21st CCLC has recorded success here. According to Hutchins, “There were 37 children last year that at an ‘F’, and by the end of the year they were at a ‘C’. We’re so proud of them and want to keep them going.