DeKalb Middle and West Schools have become known for their exemplary 21st Century Learning Center programs and representatives of the Tennessee and U.S. Departments of Education, who have heard about them, paid a visit here Tuesday to see for themselves.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and local educators greeted Stephanie Kitchell and Lisa Shimmell, both of the U.S. Department of Education, and Kim Dabney of the State Department who made brief stops at both DeKalb Middle and DeKalb West School.
In 2008, DeKalb County was among several school systems across the state who received grant funds in the 21st Century Community Learning Center program. Each grantee was funded for three years with the opportunity for a two year extension if the program demonstrated adequate student progress. DeKalb County was granted a two year extension in 2011.
These programs seek to raise achievement of low-income students and students at underperforming schools through enrichment programs operated outside the school day.
Grantees can reinforce student achievement in a variety of ways such as character education, arts education, remedial help, academic enrichment, expanded library hours and technology instruction. Program effectiveness must be based on strong scientific research.
"The 21st Century Grant is where we are able to incorporate many of our day to day activities along with the extra activities into our after school program," said Director of Schools Willoughby. "Dr. Carol Hendrix wrote this grant and she is the person who oversees it along with the site coordinators. We have a real good working relationship because we provide after school transportation. That's one of the things that's made this a real success, because we have so many children that would not be able to participate if we did not have the after school transportation. Our children are getting exposed to so many other things, such as the arts that they would not if we didn't have these programs. So this 21st Century program is extremely important to the education of our children in DeKalb County Schools and in becoming a well rounded good citizen. I want to thank the people who make this happen locally, statewide, and nationally. Its been a big success in DeKalb County," said Willoughby
(Pictured left to right: Kim Dabney, TN. Dept of Education; Mike Lewis, DeKalb Middle School Teacher and 21st Century Learning Center Site Coordinator, Stephanie Kitchell and Lisa Shimmell of the U.S. Dept of Education, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby)