For the third consecutive year, the Michael Anderson School received the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant.
Through the targeted grant, the kindergarten to eighth grade school in Avondale can provide “Beyond-the-Bell” programming for its students, including specific academic tutoring, academic enrichment, dance, art, STEAM and opportunities for collaboration.
“We were thrilled,” said Lori Goslar, Michael Anderson School principal. “It is a feeling of exuberance and excitement and, most of all, knowing that our school community is going to be invested in and taken care of beyond school hours.”
The grant was awarded three years ago, but it can be renewed annually. Goslar said teachers, staff and students work each year to meet the requirements and criteria to continue to receive the funds from the grant.
“We support over eight and a half hours a week, beyond the bell, meaning outside of school hours,” Goslar said. “We also have opportunities to apply for enhancement funds, which we have always taken advantage of. We were awarded enhancement funds this year, which we will be taking into our summer school programming to help us support our school community and our family community even more.”
The grant, Goslar explained, is designed to support a combination of academics and enriching activities outside of school hours. It’s considered a 21st century learning center grant.
“It enhances those learning opportunities beyond school hours in a very safe environment that has adult supervision in it,” she said. “It also allows students to excel in an area of interest, perhaps the arts, cooking, sports, and it also bridges our school and our families and our community.”
The grant helps fund the school’s after-hours food service, the students’ transportation, and the salary of 15 certified and classified teachers.
“It’s a very robust grant, and we’re really proud of it,” Goslar said. “We also engage community partners where we do art nights and paint nights. We’ve done drive-in movies on campus, so there’s just a variety of things we’re able to do with it.”
Goslar said the grant is about $500,000, and it minimizes on a yearly basis as the school begins to build its capacity with the grant.
“It takes a village to make this happen,” she said.
“It’s a combination of our families, our community, our outside community, our school community, our partnerships that make it all happen together. So, it’s truly collaborative.
“And the goals we have with academics are very intentional. They’re connected to our high-need students and our growth academically and then also just providing that relational piece and that robust enrichment piece that really motivates and interests kids.”
As principal, Goslar said Michael Anderson School is special because of its focus and dedication to its motto: “Dream big, work hard.”
“We have a relentless approach to that ‘Dream big, work hard’ motto, and of course we’re named after Michael Anderson, Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, an astronaut who attended the school in the third grade,” Goslar said.
“We’re always launching toward success, and we have him to be proud of and motivate our students.”
In addition to the students’ success in the current school year, Goslar commends teachers and students for their ability to overcome the pandemic-induced struggles.
“It’s that collaborative effort and that relationship piece and a great group of people coming together collaboratively and planning activities and enrichment and academics beyond the bell in a very intentional nature, and making sure we’re using our state standards and our curriculum to really go beyond the bell and detail smaller groups of students who need the support,” she said.
Michael Anderson School does have grant renewal in the summer. Moving forward, Goslar said she looks forward to providing students with opportunities beyond school hours and continue to recruit new students.
“We’ll be continuing throughout the summer and so that recruitment process will be starting now in the fourth quarter for that summer school component,” she said. “Our teachers and our paraprofessionals are vital in this. And so we’ll be identifying students that would like to come to Rocket Academy and extending that opportunity to them.”