Title

Hear From the Experts: Engaging High School Youth in After-School Programming

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

After-school programming has proven impacts on academic achievement and on the development of social and emotional skills. In particular, our presentation will relate to Strand 1 by specifically addressing intensive programming, extension activities, and one-on-one academic help that can be extremely beneficial to students who may need extra support because of external factors. In addition, we will address the ways that after-school programming can overcome the barriers to academic achievement that youth face once they have already fallen behind. Additionally, our presentation will relate to Strand 2 by showing how after-school programming can also foster a more inclusive environment and encourage pro-social skills.

Brief Program Description

In this workshop, participants will consider barriers to, benefits from, and strategies for engaging high-school youth in after-school programming. We will examine success stories, including hands-on opportunities for practice, and hear from youth about what has worked best for them.

Summary

This workshop will focus on the unique challenges and opportunities inherent in providing after-school programming for high-school students, particularly those who are already disengaged. Many students face diverse barriers to participation, and program providers also face less complicated but equally difficult obstacles, such as the increased mobility and independence of high school students and a reduced degree of parental control in ensuring involvement. At the same time, these students stand to benefit greatly from after-school opportunities for academic and social support; the challenge is getting them in the door. Linking barriers to engagement to the specific benefits students can gain is a powerful way to transform a negative into a positive and overcome these challenges. This workshop will give participants practical strategies for involving disengaged youth in after-school programming that confronts these challenges in proactive and unique ways. We will consider avenues to recruiting students and keeping them engaged; additionally, we will look at opportunities that specifically address many of the aforementioned barriers and help set youth on a more successful path. In particular, we will look at ways to build on the school day and help students find more academic success while also building pro-social and extra-curricular skills. We will address ways to do this that do not alienate students or pigeonhole them based on previous histories or stereotypes. This workshop will be an interactive mix of hands-on application and guided small- and large-group discussion. The student presenters will share personal experiences and will facilitate some hands-on workshops that have been successful at our program, with a consistent focus on the transferable take-aways that participants can use in their own programs. Participants will be involved in several break-out discussions and will be asked to contribute their own ideas and suggestions throughout the workshop. There will be very little “lecture” or presentation time; the majority of the workshop will involve a give-and-take between the presenters and participants, so as to ensure that focus on transference. Participants will walk away with concrete plans and strategies for how to engage high school students in whatever setting and program they may work.

Evidence

Recent research by the Colorado Department of Education shows that dropout rates for “high-risk” youth are nearly 20% higher than for the general population, while college remediation rates, particularly in STEM subjects, are approaching 35%. Studies show a wide variety of factors that contribute to these unsettling trends, including familial obligations, adjudication or substance abuse, bullying, and a history of academic success that has placed students far enough behind that catching up may seem impossible. Data also proves, however, that a comprehensive support system which addresses both academic and social risk factors can not only help students re-engage in education but also help them overcome these barriers to future endeavors. More specifically, a range of studies show that social activities after-school support higher learning outcomes during the school-day; this is particularly true when those social programs are linked to school-day classes. Furthermore, effective after-school programming addresses protective factors for youth development such as the presence of mentors, positive norms, and opportunities for engagement. We have integrated these protective factors into our program; based on this data, we have designed our proposal to blend academic enrichment with pro-social activities so that students are reaping benefits across both areas. Our own data over the past two years has shown greater student engagement, increased attendance, and improved grades for those students who participate in this programming.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Boulder Preparatory High School is a Free-No-Fee College Preparatory Community that encourages the pursuit of knowledge and education as an intervention for youth, particularly those who may be “off-track.” Boulder Prep has an extensive after-school program that includes classroom extension field trips, daily homework help, life skills workshops, intensive classes, and a variety of pro-social, cultural, service, and recreational programs. Rachel Brett is the After-School Program Coordinator, managing the program. She has a Masters in Environmental Education, serves on the state of Colorado’s Environmental Education Leadership Council, and has worked in numerous formal and informal educational settings. The Boulder Prep student presenters are representative of the typical Boulder Prep student; in addition, they are actively involved in Boulder Prep’s after-school program and take a leadership role in the success of the program.

Keyword Descriptors

After-school programming, social skills, academic enrichment

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Hear From the Experts: Engaging High School Youth in After-School Programming

Harborside Center East and West

In this workshop, participants will consider barriers to, benefits from, and strategies for engaging high-school youth in after-school programming. We will examine success stories, including hands-on opportunities for practice, and hear from youth about what has worked best for them.