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After-school program continues academic focus

By Jessica Benz 

       Providing a safe, structured and supervised environment for children is at the heart of the Terry After School Program, according to coordinator Tristy Schroeber. The program, which operates from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday and from 2:30 pm to 5 pm on Friday following early dismissal, gives working parents the added assurance of knowing their children are in a safe, learning environment during the critical time between the end of the school day and parents’ arrival from work.

“It’s just a good place for kids to go,” Schroeber said, noting snacks, crafts and physical activity are all a part of the two-hour program. 
Before heading up the after school program at the start of the school year, Schroeber’s three children attended the program. She saw firsthand how it afforded students the extra time needed to complete schoolwork. Since it is, first and foremost, an academic program, homework is a priority. Once snacks are served, students begin working on homework before participating in other activities.
The Terry After School Program began in 1998. Some of  its earliest coordinators included: Norma Grist, Vicky Tusler, Des Hoffer, and Stefanie Forcella. It is funded under the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant  and Best Beginnings Child Care Montana Out of School Project Grant. 
A room in the Grandey building houses the program providing children access to other resources including a computer lab. 
Schroeber, who had worked with previous coordinator Carolyn May, said she has kept the program’s routine pretty much the same as before. 
Two high school student assistants generally help out with the children each evening. About 15 children attend on a regular basis, as well as occasional drop-ins.
“It’s just interesting to see the variety of kids that come,” Schroeber said. 
As work assignments are completed, students partake in recreational activities. “There’s always something different happening,” Schroeber noted of the day’s activities.
She brings in a new craft project for the students to work on each afternoon. “They all really seem to enjoy that.” 
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