After-School Programs Connect Teachers, Students

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley

Teachers at Thompson Middle School, along with Haines and Wredling middle schools in St. Charles, are encouraging their kids through an interesting program.

The Teachers Encouraging Kids after-school program gives support to students and also builds their self-confidence.

At Thompson, there are three components to choose from for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

The popular large group segment offers monthly excursions for up to 50 students. The group travels with teachers to an activity that offers a fun social experience.

"We invite a number of students to join us," said Thompson Middle School counselor Maureen Reilly. "Each month is different."

In September, a group of students and teachers entertained each other with their batting skills at Headin' For Home, a sports activity center in Batavia. Last month, the group took part in a hay ride and bonfire at Jaynesway Farms in Bartlett.

For the November large group activity, students and teachers competed in the popular and exciting laser tag game at Enchanted Castle in Lombard, followed by a group dinner.

"It encourages building a wider circle of friendships. We get a lot of sixth-graders and a few eighth-graders signing up," Reilly said.

"We are trying to encourage students and help build things up. It's been very positive. Students can do something with friends and meet new friends."

These large-group activities take place each month after school, or sometimes on the weekends. In the works for December is a trip to Chicago to see the holiday lights and do a bit of shopping. The plan for January is to see a play and go out for dinner.

"I've been to a couple of activities. I didn't think it would be as fun as it was," said a sixth-grade Thompson student Mary Judd. "It ended up being a lot more fun."

Future events include skating at Funway Entertainment Center in Batavia in February, taking in a musical performance in March, a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry in April, and a golf outing followed by lunch in May.

"Students have more opportunities to feel a part of the school and teachers have more opportunities to get to know the students outside of the classroom," said Thompson teacher Jan Ray.

"I think it has gotten more kids involved and has provided more student-teacher interaction," said Dawn Sulich, also a teacher at Thompson. …