Local kids are back at school and the Children First/CIS learning center is in action. The nonprofit, which aims to “empower children and their families to reach their full potential through advocacy, education and services,” documented a day in the life of the children, teachers and volunteers that make the learning center shine. Photos and captions for Xpress by outreach coordinator by Jodi Ford.
Arrival: A child runs excitedly into the Children First/CIS Learning Center at Deaverview Apartments. The Children First/CIS Learning Centers are a safe-haven afterschool program located in three low-income communities. This program provides a healthy snack, homework help and enrichment activities to over 60 Kindergarten-5th graders. Since the learning centers are located on-site, the children are able to get off the school bus and come directly to the Learning Center.
Hello Ms. Crystal: Before the children come in and sit down for their snack time, they give Ms. Crystal a big hug. She is the Children First/CIS Parent Involvement Coordinator and site leader at our Learning Center at Deaverview. In the mornings, she works with parents to make sure they have the necessary resources to keep their family strong. In return, parents volunteer at the center and participate in workshops and events—last year 100% of parents volunteered at least once.
Healthy Snack: After the children have put away their book-bags, they sit down for a healthy snack. Today is grilled cheese, goldfish and almonds. One of the children had never eaten an almond before and was very proud of herself for trying it.
Focus Time: There is always something happening at the Children First/CIS Learning Center at Deaverview. The children raise their hands to be chosen to lead a focus game. This transition time helps them go from the hectic school day into the more relaxed, but still structured, afterschool time.
Homework Time: The children split into groups to work on their homework. Here, Ms. Courtney works one-on-one with one of the children, as the other children work together in a group. For many of the children, this homework time is the only chance they have to get much needed one-on-one help from a site leader or volunteer.
Checking Homework: One of the children brings her homework to Ms. Emily to check. In the mornings, Ms. Emily works at Johnston Elementary School as the Children First/CIS Success Coordinator. She is able to interact with the children at school, as well as their parents, teachers, and counselors. In the afternoons, she works as a site leader at the learning center, where she works directly with the children. This model provides a full circle of care and information around each child at the learning centers.
Dance Dance Dance! Each Thursday, Ms. Lisa from LEAF in Schools & Streets comes to the Children First/CIS Learning Center at Deaverview where she teaches the children hip-hop dance, and the children love it! At the end of the year, they get to show off their moves at a performance in front of a real-life audience at the Spring LEAF Festival. Other enrichment activities include yoga, soccer, healthy cooking lessons, and arts and crafts.
Goodbye for Now: It’s the end of another day at the Children First/CIS Learning Center at Deaverview, and the staff says goodbye to the children as Ms. Emily hands out granola bars to take home.
See additional photos here: