Students participate in art and craft activities while enrolled in T.E.A.M. 21, an enrichment program. A five-year grant funding the program was not renewed for all Wyoming schools this year

TEAM 21 Program Preserved for Middle School, Elementary Funding Expires

by Nardy Baeza Bickel  

Godfrey-Lee parent Mandy Evangelista is grateful that, for years, her three children have been able to participate in the T.E.A.M 21 program that provides enrichment and extracurricular activities after school and during the summer.

The program, which stands for Teach, Enrich, Achieve, Move, provided support to her oldest, Jorge, now a sophomore, who attended through middle school and participated in positive extracurricular activities that kept him busy during what can be for troubling years of many young people.

"The program is really helpful. They get help with their homework, and they get to do fun things on a daily basis. They make them feel important, like you're not only important to your family, but there are other people out there who care about you, too," she said. Creativity is encouraged throughout T.E.A.M. 21 enrichment program activities

A five-year grant funding the T.E.A.M. 21 program in all Wyoming schools –serving more than 500 students—expires at the end of the month, and while schools were able to secure funding for the middle school program, the elementary grant was not renewed.

The program is offered through a partnership between the Godfrey-Lee, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville and Wyoming public schools and the City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department.  It provides middle school and elementary students the opportunity to participate in academic, social, fitness, and recreational activities.

Evangelista said she’s happy middle school students will continue to participate in the program but is sad her younger children, Marisol, a fifth grader, and Perla, a third grader, won't be able to.

"There's a point in their lives when they are easily influenced and it helped (my son) stay in the better path.  It showed him they could do fun things and it doesn't have to include drugs or things that are not correct to do and that is very important at that age level,” she explained

Agreeing was Godwin Heights North Elementary Mary Lang, who said the district had 65 students enrolled in the afterschool program and another 100 in the summer program.

"Although we're saddened to lose the program at the elementary level, we are happy to see it continue for our middle school students,” she said, adding the district is working hard to come up with additional opportunities for students this summer.

“We hope to get it back in future years,” Lang said.

Carol Lautembach, director of elementary education at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, said one of the program's key successes has been reducing the summer academic loss that most students experience during the two or three months of summer vacation.

About 120 students from Godfrey Lee participate in the summer program, with another 60 attending during the school year.

Creativity is encouraged throughout T.E.A.M. 21 enrichment program activities"This program definitely helped level that (loss) out from the data we've seen. No (summer) loss is really good," she said.

Evangelista said for a district with a large population of English learners like Godfrey-Lee, enrichment activities are key. "That exposure to the world so they have experiences they can draw upon is absolutely invaluable. This program provided an opportunity to learn in a very different way than you would learn in the classroom."

Evangelista said her children would really miss the program. “They've been in it for so long, it’s like an everyday normal routine for them they loved it. It's going to be very hard for them to understand why it is not going to be there.”

Evangelista said she’s seen the program also do great things for adults. Because many parents in the district come from other countries, she said, they also learn from the experiences their children get they simply might not even know about how to get to, like the family outing to Whitecaps game last year.

“Because of the cultural differences, there’s a lot of things that the children learn and can talk to their parents about,” she said.

Submitted on: July 9th 2013

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