HYDE COUNTY, N.C. – The 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) is a key strategic asset of the Hyde County School System.
By definition, this federal program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.
Hyde County Schools Superintendent Steve Basnight explained, “What school system would not want the ability to provide additional daily assistance, to a significant percentage of their student population, beyond the end of the normal school day, in all of our district’s schools, for both academics and their social-emotional well-being, along with, the ability to have the 21st CCLC staff working so closely with the actual teachers, in some cases be the actual teachers, who are teaching the content to those students? Quite simply stated, all of them!”
Hyde 21st CCLC proudly serves 200 children in the Afterschool Program, 100 children in our summer program, and around 50 families in our Saturday programming and adult education classes and sessions. There are lots of moving parts to the program, keeping the program leadership team and staff on their toes!
In early August of this year, the Hyde 21st CCLC Program Director, Ms. Nancy Leach, was surprised by a call from Susan Brigman, Section Chief of Federal Programs at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).
Ms. Brigman was calling to inform Ms. Leach that NCDPI’s 21st CCLC division was undergoing an audit by the US Department of Education and that this process required interviewing one LEA-based (Public School System) and one non-LEA-based 21st CCLC program in NC. After deliberation, the state 21st Century team unanimously chose the Hyde 21st CCLC as an exemplary program and asked Ms. Leach if she would agree to have her program represent North Carolina in an interview with the United States Department of Education.
Ms. Leach gladly accepted the honor and asked to include Ms. Tekisha Jordan, Hyde County Schools Student Services Support and NC Pre-Kindergarten Contract Administrator, and Mr. Ken Chilcoat, Hyde County Schools Finance Director, to join her in the interview.
During the hour-long interview, the Hyde 21st CCLC Program Director answered questions from The US Department of Education, described a typical day in the program, the services the program provides for families, our program’s relationship with the schools, and other topics related to the operation of the program. When asked about the most valuable piece of the program, Ms. Leach said, that answer came easy… “it’s the staff.”
The Hyde 21st CCLC staff have been so resilient throughout both the destruction following Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic. They have worked diligently and tirelessly to recreate a program to meet the students’ needs, and have risen to the occasion, without complaint. They have been patient, creative, kind, and willing to try new things and grow as educators.
Though the interview was about our 21st Century CCLC program, Ms. Leach found time to boast about our entire HCS faculty and staff, and how awe-inspiring it was to see teachers and 21st CCLC staff working together in the best interest of our students. During the 2020-21 school year, the 21st CCLC staff worked closely with many of our teachers, sometimes even doing daily check-ins on student progress and needs. Our 21st Century staff has been able to add an extra layer of support for the students in our school system, and that means so much. Superintendent Basnight refers to the 21st Century Community Learning Program as, “our secret weapon! Under the leadership of Ms. Leach, the 21st Century Program is as much a part of our overall educational program as the courses we teach from 8:00-3:00. This program provides our students with another layer of individualized assistance before they leave the school grounds each day. ”
We are looking forward to getting this school year’s 21st CCLC Afterschool Program started in September 2021. As usual, enrolled students will be provided with targeted academic support and dynamic academic enrichment, as well as opportunities for family activities. We will continue doing what’s best for students!