09/17/13 — Wayne County Public Schools receive grants for mentoring and afterschool programs

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Wayne County Public Schools receive grants for mentoring and afterschool programs

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 17, 2013 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Public Schools have been selected to participate in two grant-funded student enrichment programs this school year.

Youth and Families with Promise, or YFP, is part of the 4-H National Mentoring program through N.C. State University, while AmeriCorps Operation LINK is affiliated with East Carolina University.

The two initiatives were approved by the school board at its recent meeting.

YFP is a three-year grant for approximately $6 million, said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

"It's not just for Wayne County. It's also Tulsa, Okla.," she said. "It's a national grant. They're looking at the population of both of these states. North Carolina and Oklahoma were the only two chosen."

Hope Meyerhoeffer, director of ESL/arts/language arts, explained the premise of the after school program.

"This grant is three-fold -- firstly, to decrease the juvenile delinquency rates and the dropout rates as well as improving the academic success of our Latino students," she said. "We are extremely fortunate that they have approached Wayne County to offer this grant and this help to us at no cost whatsoever."

The district's role is to help recruit Latino students and families from the middle and high school level and provide a meeting space for program activities.

Three schools have already volunteered their buildings for that purpose, she said -- Southern Wayne, Spring Creek High and Brogden Middle. Transportation will also be provided and funded by the grant, she added.

The district has been working with Cooperative Extension on the state and county levels for the past three years serving Latino youths and their families, with twice-a-month 4-H meetings. Those will continue, along with tutoring and family night activities. Mentors will be recruited through Wayne Community College, Mount Olive College, area churches and organizations.

While the program began with Latino children as the focus, it will be expanded to include any students considered at-risk, Mrs. Meyerhoeffer said. Likewise, other schools can also participate.

Operation LINK is an AmeriCorps mentoring program to support children of military families in eastern North Carolina. The three-year national grant is for $2.3 million.

"This will take the place of Project Heart," Mrs. McCullen said. "Wayne County has been doing it for about three years. Last year we did it at all of our high schools."

Priority will be given to military families, but non-military children and youth will also be encouraged to apply, she said. At least 50 percent of the participants have to be military-connected.

The Cross-Age Mentoring Program, or CAMP, has four main parts -- a mentoring curriculum, robotic clubs, community service and summer camps.

Mentors will be recruited and trained by sponsoring East Carolina University, and provided with a stipend.

Mrs. McCullen said the mentors may be college students, as well as parents and even grandparents.

Tommy's Road Elementary and Greenwood Middle schools, as well as Wayne School of Engineering, have also signed on to have the robotic clubs after school.

"We will be providing the after school coordinator and a place for them to meet," Mrs. McCullen said. "We're looking at approximately 80 people being hired to go, so it's going to be a big project."

CAMP is expected to start in October and run through mid-June, with a two-week summer camp to be held in late July or early August.