Photographers often talk about a perfect time of day when the sun is just about to set and the light transforms what would be ordinary photos into extraordinary photos. They call this time “the magic hour.” This special 60 minutes happens in the morning before the sun rises and in the evening before the sun sets. The combination of altitude, latitude, and season all have to line up just right to create this reddish light with long shadows.
I have never been much of an early bird, so seeing the AM magic hour rarely happens for me. But after school, when our extended learning time programs kick into gear, the magic hour seems to expand into the magic hours. From 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. we have the opportunity to create something better than magic, we create results.
At Eugene Field, Kendall Whittier and Sequoyah elementary schools the YMCA of Greater Tulsa is collaborating with several community partners to employ a cohesive, comprehensive, and evidence-based after school program. We are focusing on 5 areas that we know are crucial to student success; homework help/tutoring, STEM, literacy, nutrition, and movement. Students enrolled in the program are required to attend Monday through Friday and participate for the entire session.
We have taken our after school model, known as Graduate Oklahoma (GO) Club, and emboldened it with the addition of partners that are experts in their fields. We provide the staff and structure so that organizations such as Reading Partners and City Year can provide high quality extended learning time to students. Fridays serve as our club days, allowing those partners that do not fit into the academic focus of Monday through Thursday to engage students in activities of their own choosing.
Just like Growing Together’s collective impact mission, we want our students to live, learn, and thrive. And even though the data proves that children who exercise more, and eat healthier will attend more days of school and improve their test scores, we know that the real impact comes from the meaningful relationships our students fashion with staff, volunteers, and teachers after school. Allowing them to connect to their school, peers, families, and communities in a positive and progressive way.
Something magic happens after school when the conditions are right, when partners, teachers, and parents come together to help students reach goals and achieve outcomes. But this kind of magic does not happen without communication and cooperation.
Director for Community Initiatives – Eugene Field
YMCA of Greater Tulsa