Beaufort County after-school program showing results

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 6:29 PM EST
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - At the start of the year, the Beaufort County School District introduced an after-school program for some of its students in the Sea Islands area.

Since, the program has more than doubled in size and improved test scores across multiple subjects. After the school day ends, the learning continues. Community sites, like this church, fill up with kids across Beaufort County four days a week. While this program may be centered around education, it’s filled with so much more.

“Well, I like their teaching,” second grader Adrian Holmes said.

Holmes is a local second grader who loves this program, and says it’s taught him a lot. Of course, we had to put that to the test as he just started division this week. The math wiz said it’s not all numbers inside these classrooms though.

“I love the surprises that they always do like yesterday we built things out of marshmallows and toothpicks,” Holmes said.

It changes by the day. Today, he’s decorating an ornament and leading the prayer.

Holmes isn’t the only child being helped by this. A parent of another student here said her daughter won’t let her mom pick her up early.

“If I come and pick her up because we have an appointment, it’s like you just ruined her whole day,” said Takisha Olakanye, a mother of a fifth grader.

The mom says this program’s benefits go way beyond education.

“I’ve seen her blossom. She was this shy little girl that wouldn’t talk to people that were not in our household or in our family and now she’s talking,” Olakanye said.

Across 12 locations, over 300 kids are being helped the same way - in a program designed to solve a problem created by the pandemic.

“The district thought that they had to do something outside of the box to do something creative that could decrease the learning loss,” BCSD Extended Learning and Community director, Gaynelle Dantzler said.

It’s been successful in that regard too, increasing reading scores as much as 8 percent, as retired teachers help solve that learning loss issue.

“It’s my understanding that a lot of students fell so far behind, and I thought maybe I can come back and help,” retired educator Jannie Williams said.

I think it’s safe to say for kids, like Adrian, she certainly has.