Beans and Rice Inc. celebrates year’s afterschool programs with carnival
As a summer sendoff to Radford elementary students, U Serv AmeriCorps members hosted a carnival at McHarg Elementary on the last day of this school year’s Afterschool Enrichment Programs, which are conducted by Beans and Rice Inc. The carnival was for the nearly 50 students at McHarg and Belle Heth elementary schools who participated in the programs from September to the last week in May.
Parents, teachers, and community leaders flocked with the children to the school’s playground to enjoy the fun attractions, such as games, prizes, food, and inflatable jungle gyms. U Serv AmeriCorps members concluded the carnival with a community-night dinner and superlative awards for students from both schools.
Mandy Thompson, an U Serv AmeriCorps member from Taylorsville, N.C., who served at McHarg Elementary School, said that the carnival was a reward for students at both schools who improved their classroom performance.
“The children have been working hard, especially getting good reports back from teachers, and grades being raised at Belle Heth,” Thompson said. “It was good for the children to just celebrate all that Beans and Rice had accomplished for the year.”
Beans and Rice Inc. is a community economic development organization based in Pulaski and Radford that builds assets and develops capacities in low-to-moderate income families through economic and educational programs. The afterschool programs – which occur at select elementary and middle schools in Pulaski, Dublin and Radford – are a flagship initiative of Beans and Rice’s capacity development programs.
Beans and Rice Inc. collaborates with the City of Radford Public Schools to provide after school programming for kindergarten through second grade at McHarg Elementary and for third and fourth grade at Belle Heth Elementary on a weekly basis, Monday through Thursday. Programs last more than two hours each day and provide students with tutoring, academic enrichment, recreation, family nights, nutritious snacks, and social development activities.
The academic enrichment programs place special emphasis on students who are academically, economically, and behaviorally challenged. This is the second year Beans and Rice Inc., has held afterschool programs at Belle Heth Elementary and the sixth year at McHarg Elementary.
Trista Martin Phillips, an U Serv AmeriCorps member from Roanoke who volunteered at Belle Heth Elementary, said one of her main goals this year was to improve the grades of participants and to build up social skills. She and Thompson worked each day planning curriculum for children in the afterschool program. Phillips said most of the activities were math-based because they were planned by service learning students in a math class at Radford University.
Jenna Woolwine, a third-grade teacher at Belle Heth Elementary School, said she referred one of her students to Beans and Rice, Inc. for the afterschool program due to his problems with organization and homework. Woolwine said that problem faded throughout the year due to U Serv AmeriCorps members assisting.
“I think [the afterschool programs] are very important,” Woolwine said. “A lot of times, support is not at home. These volunteers can help with school work and students can get the interaction with other schoolchildren that they wouldn’t normally get.”
David Lewis, who had four children in the afterschool program at McHarg Elementary School said in a telephone interview that he believes the afterschool program was a positive factor in his children’s academics.
“I think it did do them some good,” Lewis said. “I could tell my kids were excited about the learning, and the volunteers were excited about being there.”
Beans and Rice Inc. is hosting a summer reading program at Fairfax Village and Ridgewood Apartments from June 4 until July 27. The program will run from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Interested parents should contact the Beans and Rice Radford office at 633-6270.
– Submitted by Geoffrey A. Cooper, AmeriCorps VISTA
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