Yesterday, we attended the launch of the TIME Collaborative at Roger Sherman Elementary School. Because we’re so excited about the promise of this program, we wanted to share our experience of visiting two other Meriden schools that are already into the process of implementing extended time in partnership with TIME.
Imagine a learning environment in which children are provided with lessons beyond those normally presented in a traditional curriculum; a place where creativity and exploration are encouraged and nurtured; a place where enrichment is provided not only for the mind, but also for the body and spirit. The good news is that you do not need to imagine such a place because it actually exists in the extended day programs at Casimir Pulaski School and John Barry School in Meriden, Connecticut.
This spring, a team from CCER toured these two Meriden Schools in which the TIME Collaborative has helped to incorporate ninety-minute extended time programs into the school day. At Pulaski School, students arrive at school by 7:30 and enjoy a nutritious breakfast in the school cafeteria. Students in Grade 3-5 begin their day with a variety of enrichment activities while students in Grades K-2 start with traditional academic offerings. For the younger students, their enrichment programs take place at the end of the school day from 3:00-4:30pm.
Logistics are often a major barrier for schools seeking to develop extended day programming, In the case of these two schools, the TIME Collaborative–a nonprofit funded by the Ford Foundation–has assisted with the planning and logistics of implementing extended day enrichment activities. TIME worked closely with a team at each school to create a split school schedule, which allows some teachers to arrive earlier and others to stay later. This ensures that teachers aren’t being over-worked in order to staff the longer schedule. Full-time teachers who choose to teach during the extended time period also receive an additional stipend to their contract pay.
In addition, TIME promotes the use of embedded partnerships with retired teachers, the YMCA, outside agencies like the Boys and Girls Club, and other community members. These parties can offer their expertise through various mini-courses. For instance, at Pulaski Elementary School, teachers are encouraged to teach topics outside of their normal instructional areas that interests. The goal is to offer exciting and engaging courses that expand students’ knowledge of the outside world, increase their vocabularies, and allow them to practice their literacy/numeracy skills in a real world context.
During CCER’s visit, we found students to be involved and excited in every activity. Classes are on a four-week rotation so that children do not become bored or tired of any particular activity.
Since incorporating this new schedule in these two Meriden schools, attendance and academic achievement have improved. The extended day program does more than just provide additional time to each school day. It provides a window to the outside world for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience these forms of enrichment. In the words of Dan Coffey, principal of Pulaski School, “Interests develop into abilities.” So far, the extended time initiative in Meriden is time well spent, and we’re glad to see these efforts expanding to a third school at Roger Sherman Elementary.