Program touches students

Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Angela Henry, SAFE BASE director, explains what goes on daily in the elementary portion at Lincoln Elementary School. Below, Jake Ard is among those who tutor students.

Kristina Crays doesn’t focus on completing projects in the SAFE BASE art classes she teaches at Lincoln Elementary School. Instead, she encourages young students to create something beautiful and intriguing from a handful of raw materials. She emphasizes colors and urges her students to embrace the ones they like.
She is one of many instructors, including certified teachers, who give USD 257 students extra help with studies and lifestyle enrichment through the SAFE BASE after school program.

SAFE BASE is in its 10th year.
Recently, members of its advisory committee toured the elementary, middle and high school sites where the program is held.
Sessions at the middle and high schools continue to be funded by the Kansas Department of Education, with assistance from the city of Iola.
Governmental funding for the elementary program, located at Lincoln Elementary School, expired last spring. SAFE BASE director Angela Henry solicited a $135,000 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, which opted to fund the program in recognition of the health and academic advantages it provides local children.
In addition to activities throughout the school year, SAFE BASE provides dental screenings for the three school districts of Allen County. Health Care Foundation grant funding pays the follow-up costs for students who need it.
Funding remains much on Henry’s mind. She and advisory committee members are seeking funds to continue the program, including the popular summer session.
“The summer program is my favorite,” Henry said. “We take field trips once a week and the children are able to see and experience things that they might not otherwise ever be exposed to.”
SAFE BASE has no enrollment restrictions.

FUNDING for middle and high school sessions comes from a five-year, $388,955, 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant — now in its fourth year — and $10,000 provided annually by the city of Iola.
Both enrichment and tutoring sessions are provided at the middle school level. Students are assigned to tutoring when they fail to complete homework. Matt Stuckey, IMS SAFE BASE coordinator, contacts guardians to tell them when children will be staying after school. On Fridays he makes a list of students with failing grades and again calls parents and guardians. Failing students are required to attend after-school sessions until grades are raised.
All students are encouraged to participate in after school enrichment programs. Middle school sessions are an hour long, with dismissal at 4:20 p.m.
At the high school, students failing two or more courses in English, math, science or social studies are required to attend an hour-long after-school instruction program with certified teachers. IHS math teacher Kim Bruner is coordinator.
Tutoring has been expanded at the high school under Principal David Grover. Before-school sessions are now available and core subject instruction is available during the school day. Any student may participate.
In addition, a special evening session has been added for students who have difficulty staying after school because of athletics or other commitments. They meet from 6 to 7:30 Monday evenings, with peer tutoring by members of Link Crew, a leadership organization for juniors and seniors.
Middle school attendance in enrichment and tutoring programs runs about 50 students a day, while 15 usually are in mandated tutoring at the high school.

IN THE EARLY years of SAFE BASE when federal funding was substantial, adult programs were a part.
At the middle school, that has been revived somewhat by math instructor Regina Young.
On Wednesday evenings parents and their students are invited for a light meal and then an hour of instruction in algebra. About 50 parents have been participating.
“They can’t help (their children) if they don’t understand,” Young said. “It has been fun to watch the interaction between the parents and their children.”
Progress for students and parents is measured by regular quizzes and if the students out-perform their parents, Young gives them extra credit.
“It’s also a win-win in my book because parents are spending more time with their kids,” she said.

TWO GRANTS from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City are in place for the elementary program.
One, for $50,1412, is the extension of a two-year mental health grant of just under $200,000. The other is a healthy lifestyles grant of $135,000.
On average, 100 students attend enrichment and life skills sessions. The overall focus for the younger children’s program is fitness and nutrition.
A typical day starts with a 3:15 snack. Those in life skills classes spend half an hour in enrichment or counseling then an hour in tutoring. The students are divided into grade levels for certified teacher assistance.
Fitness and nutrition instruction encourages activity, eating fruits and vegetables and participation in daily physical activities.