Yesterday morning Belinda and I had the opportunity to meet with youth at the High School. After weeks of conversations with the principle, superintendent, and teachers, we collaborated in developing this time to begin conversations with youth about extended learning opportunities. Our goal was to allow students to express what their passions are and what they would have in an afterschool program should they have the opportunity to choose. After an hour of conversation, we walked away with a number of ideas and thoughts.
It has taken us a good month and a half to get to this point. In the early fall we took our first crack at providing an extended learning experience for middle and high school youth. While youth became involved in the program, we were not having the consistency and drive we were hoping. Then in mid-October, we attended the Bridge Conference where folk from extended learning organizations come together to learn and talk about different ways of engaging youth so their passions may be expressed. With that conference and the many conversations we had during it, in the back of our minds, we gave our extended learning start-up much thought. By the first of November we decided to regroup, rethink, and restructure. We began with conversations with those youth currently involved in the program. Those conversations lead to meetings and conversations with community members, teachers, the high-school principal, and the district superintendent. These conversations walked us to yesterdays high-school youth conversations.
A few ideas, concepts, and questions that arose this morning: Would choir work in an extended learning time? What about law enforcement opportunities or barrel-racing? Could something be developed around school elective classes so more time could be put into projects (or might new projects be developed)? The one need (and yes this is expressed as a need not a want), there must be food available after-school (And, yes candy is considered a food!)!
We have more meetings lined up this week and then Christmas Break. During those two weeks, we will be working on structure based on comments from community, school, and youth. Our goal is finalize a new structure and be up and working with youth as the new semester gets off the ground!
© David B. Bell 2010