Learning doesn’t stop for Lakewood Elementary students

April Ash, a second grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary, works with students in the 21st Century iClass after school program.

BY DEMORRIS A. LEE, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG —As the buzzer sounds to end the regular school day, it’s often the start of extended learning for Lakewood Elementary students. At 3:35 p.m., the students head to the cafeteria where dinner is served.  They then go to one of the learning programs that are offered at the school to help enhance reading and math skills, work on homework and engage in other enrichment opportunities.

Principal Johnnie Crawford said having the extended-day learning programs are beneficial.

“They are very important for those students who have a deficiency because the programs help them grow to become proficient,” Crawford said. “The programs are also helpful to students who can participate in enrichment opportunities to enhance their learning.”

One such program is 21st Century iClass afterschool program. With this program, students are provided tutorial services and academic enrichment activities, youth development activities, drug, health and fitness programs. Students are also exposed to technology education, art, music, STEM and robotics programs.

“We get as much homework done while they are here at school where they can get the support that they need,” said April Ash, a second grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary and an iClass teacher. “The students still have access to computers and other tools that they may need and it’s a safe learning environment for them.”

Jennifer Daley, an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher at Lakewood, is the Promise Time program facilitator. Promise Time provides a structured, safe and enriching academic opportunity for students after school. It promotes acceleration, achievement and academic performance.  Like 21st Century iClass, the program is led by certified Pinellas County Schools teachers. A web-based computer program is used to improve math and reading skills.

“You are meeting students where they are academically and building a foundation in reading and math,” Daley said of Promise Time.  There are about 120 kindergarten through fifth-grade students participating in Promise Time.

Another afterschool program at Lakewood Elementary is the University of Florida’s Winning Inning Boost, which focuses on reading fluency and targets third, fourth and fifth graders. Moving at their own pace with the help of volunteers, students work to increase their reading, writing, spelling and comprehension skills.

Picking up her nieces who participate in Promise Time one evening, Kanithra Mercer said the programs add value to the school’s learning environment.

“They are very important because the programs help students who may be falling behind,” Mercer said. “And if they need additional support, they can get it right here at the school.”

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