Connections for Youth: 21st Century Community Learning
St. Louis, Missouri
Contact: Rose M. Thompson, Coordinator
21st Century Community Learning Centers
St. Louis Public Schools
- This grant has really opened up opportunities and let us make connections
with arts resources
resources that were out there, just waiting
to be used.
Rose M. Thompson
Staff, students, and family members at the St. Louis Public Schools
Carver Elementary 21st Century Community Learning Center celebrate
the culmination of a ten-week program with Portfolio Art Gallery and
Education Center. Students provided detailed information about how
they developed their pottery, sculptures, and other products.
"Connections For Youth: A 21st Century Community Learning Centers
Program" provides after-school and Saturday programs for 650 students
in grades four through eight in the St. Louis Public Schools. Activities
in the programs seven community learning centers include after-school
academic acceleration, enrichment and recreation; a Saturday academy focusing
on science, math and technology; parent education and support programs;
and professional development for program staff. The program has also availed
itself of community arts resources.
The Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA), a non-profit community-based arts
center, provides extensive subsidized outreach initiatives to select St.
Louis Community Learning Centers. It provides in-school residencies, after-school
workshops lasting eight to ten weeks (in mural painting, poster design,
pottery and mixed media) and summer programs that include the arts and
technology. Twice a week, students come to COCA or staff are sent to the
Community Learning Center. Instruction, supplies and administrative costs
are supported by the Community Learning Center grant.
Activities have included five in-school broadcasts at Clay Elementary
School that highlighted significant changes, individuals and events that
affect the students school community. Curriculum connections are
made to social studies, math, art and language arts. Students have participated
in a year-long residency and have been exposed to the technical aspects
of videotaping, script-writing, investigative reporting and interviews,
and on-camera and off-camera production.
Another COCA project, ARTS-tainment, provides a series of hands-on art
projects, such as collages, montages, wall hangings, and dolls and villages,
designed to promote language and thinking skills, social interaction and
collective activity, concentration, self-expression, hand-eye coordination,
balance and play. Introduction to dance, at Carver Elementary School,
gives children the opportunity to explore different dance styles, techniques,
vocabulary and history, and to discover the benefits of physical fitness,
discipline, self-confidence, self-expression and teamwork. According to
COCA staff, children in the program who have not had previous concentrated
exposure in the arts learn a whole new way to look at the world around
them. Students not only learn about the arts, but also learn more about
themselves and their environment.
Another service provider for the Community Learning Centers is the Taproots
School of the Arts, which centers on the book-making arts. Marking the
first collaboration between the citys Board of Education and Taproots,
the Community Learning Center grant pays for Taproots staff to come into
the schools as well as to bring students to Taproots. Printmaking, letterpress,
papermaking, paper marbling and photography classes help students to weave
image and word together through all their activities. No classes exceed
10 students in size.
Similarly, the Portfolio Gallery and Educational Center involves the Community
Learning Centers participants in eight- to-ten-week workshops in
mural painting, poster design, pottery, and mixed media. The Community
Learning Center grant pays for instruction and supplies as well as administrative
costs. As at Taproots, in some cases the children come to the facility,
while in others staff are sent to the Community Learning Centers. The
schools are also working with many other cultural organizations, such
as the St. Louis Science Center and the Missouri Botanical Garden.
The St. Louis Public Schools is a proud member of the Partnership for
Family Involvement in Education, as is the Columbia School, one of the
seven Community Learning Centers in the "Connections for Youth"