Over the course of five years, the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning conducted a research study in which experts visited fifty-three high-functioning afterschool programs across the United States that reported student academic gains. The study concluded that “the benefits for the students who attend them: better attitudes toward school and stronger school engagement; stronger school performance; higher rates of school attendance; fewer behavioral problems; and lower dropout rates.” They identified the specific strategies for building supportive relationships as the following:
- Encourage positive relationships between staff and students.
- Link to the school-day staff.
- Support and train program staff.
- Engage family members.
- Collaborate with community organizations.
These five elements remain the core of our children’s out of school program, Tomorrow’s Leaders Children’s Program. We are blessed with committed staff who are passionate about creating a positive environment for students. Ten of our children’s program instructors are graduates of our programs, so they know the impact a positive role model can make in children’s lives as each of them are living proof.
Our Children’s Director and Case Managers are in the schools of the children we serve literally every day. Talking with teachers, sharing lunch with students, and linking parents to the school through attending and advocating at teacher-parent meetings and Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings.
Touching Miami with Love places a high value on quality training. That is why we dedicate one week at the beginning of the school year, full days throughout the school year, and one week before summer programming to staff training. We designed our weekly program staff meetings and monthly all-site staff meetings to encourage, inform, and equip our staff to give their best to the students every day.
Our partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools in our Parent Empowerment Project engages families in our meetings and activities twice a month. The many Community Outreach Projects we do: Back to Back, Christmas Store, Community Cookout, and Easter Party keep our families connected to the larger TML family.
All of this would not be possible without the incredible support of our partners—churches, community organizations, and partner schools’ support. Each Tuesday middle school youth with a passion for art are bused to the Perez Art Museum for a special art class and our top readers each month enjoy a meal with our partners at Bubba Gump Restaurant. Our K-6 graders enjoy learning about nature, art, and God each month in our multi-year partnership with Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church and School. We could go on and on about how many are pouring into the lives of our children and youth each day in partnership that is helping our students succeed and your support is part of that partnership too—thank you!