Sweeney Elementary School
Windham Public Schools provides after school programs to all of its five elementary schools. CCE staff and student leaders develop activities for volunteers to facilitate at each site. Volunteers may assist with homework, read interactively to promote literacy, lead physical activities to promote physical health, and engage the children in a variety of other enrichment activities.
Monday & Wednesday from 3:15-5:15 PM, Friday from 4:00-5:00 PM
By: Briana Torres, May 3rd, 2016
The After School Program offers a series of educational, artistic, and creative events for children. With help from organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Community Engagement, we provide health and safety projects, as well as mentoring and reading support.
What We Did
Every Friday from 3:15 to 5:15, I would attend the Before and After School Program (BASP) to volunteer and spend my time with about 25-30 kids in my community. When we first arrived, the children would be finishing up their snacks before the program started. Then they would separate into groups among the four staff and volunteers to read books and complete homework. After the reading portion was over, the CCE would have a planned activity that would allow the children to work creatively with their peers. For example, one day we learned how baking soda reacted in different liquids; and on another occasion we had them act out different animals in a group.
- Help the children with their snacks.
- Help the children read books and do homework.
- We usually have a program set up for the children to complete that allows the children to be creative while learning.
- Interact with the children by facilitating games for all of them to play together outside.
Experience and Impact
Overall, I liked working at the BASP program at Sweeney. The program was very structured, and way the students respected and admired the program staff and volunteers. I learned that kids always love to learn when you make it fun. They are so bright and open with you, and it is amazing to watch their minds grow as they learn new things. This program changed my life, because I got to bond with the kids as the program progressed, and it was hard to say goodbye.
Through volunteering I was allowed to connect with the kids in the community around me instead of staying in the “Eastern Campus Bubble” and get to know the children that actually live here. Willimantic has a diverse community that contain children with really big personalities. This program continues to run every year giving the children a safe place to go after school is let out when parents might not be available. This allows parents to know that their children are well taken care of and their education is the number one priority.
By: Ashley Skolozdra, April 28, 2016
Many parents have to work forty plus hours a week or multiple jobs just to keep a roof over their children’s heads and food on the table every night. This can be a huge strain on the relationship between parent and child. At Sweeney Elementary School, they have a program where parents can send their child to a before and after school program if that parent needs to be at work before or after the school day hours. This program ensures that their child are safe and fed while that parent is working. The students range from kindergartners to fifth graders. Coming from a mother who raised children on her own and being in a similar program it only felt right to give back to a similar program that helped my family drastically.
When I was walking up to the classroom all I could hear was fifty little voices screaming and talking. When entering the room I remember being intimidated by these little creatures. Many of them came up to me and asked me to be in their homework group so I could help them. When we broke into the groups, one girl named Diamond always asked me to help her with homework. Once we finished homework she would read me a book and then I would read one to her. It was amazing to hear how well she could read for what grade she was in. On some days a dance instructor would come in and teach a certain group of students a variety of dance styles. Diamond would always grab my hand to be my partner. The entire time of dancing her and I both had a smile from ear to ear on our face. The children, as well as myself really enjoyed being able to have fun and let loose. They all loved showing off their dancing skills.
Each week I went back, my appreciation for those children only grew larger. There was no better feeling than for them to yell my name once I entered the room and give me hugs. My love for the students and especially Diamond grew when she devoted her free time after homework to draw me pictures to bring home. Although, she looked forward to seeing me each week, I looked forward to seeing her just as much if not more. Over the semester I have watched Diamond grow academically and as an individual. Each week she would tell me what happened over her weekend and what was happening at school. Not only did she grow as an individual, her reading skills improved each week. We began reading more difficult books, in addition to completing more challenging homework.
The Sweeney program helps students prepare for the future and excel academically in the classroom. This program makes it possible for the parent to come home and spend time with their children by not worrying about homework. I have been blessed to experience such a great group of kids. This program has taught me to be more patient when a student does not understand something, enhance my communication skills and to remember how it feels to be a kid. Although, it was only two hours each week, the memories and connection that evolved is something I will cherish forever. It has not only allowed me to grow a special bond with the students but also showed me working with children in the future is something I want to pursue.