Extracurricular enrichment at JCTC serves students and graduates
Pressed for space and time, staff educators across the nation must choose to teach effectively, providing enrichment while covering material efficiently. However, their needs and the needs of students are typically intertwined, making a culture of giving required.
“You don’t know where kids are going to be from day to day. You want to give them as much opportunity as you can. Whatever you can do for a kid to get the most out of their day, be it supplemental subjects like reading, math or language arts, provide that opportunity,” says Assistant Superintendent Cydney Hilburn with the Jefferson County Public Schools district in Colorado.
The fourth-largest school district in the nation is considering offering additional enrichment offerings at Jefferson County Technical Center (JCTC) campuses to increase the school’s offering of electives.
“That builds the foundation and gives them something to look forward to. Extensive weekend and summer workshops can build that experience for them,” said Marcus Burton, coordinator of Exceptional Education at JCTC.
“Some schools may choose to add a year of high school courses or prepare them for college with some type of English class at JCTC,” he continued. “Once they are 18, they would be allowed to take advantage of extracurricular activities and minor non-credit options like Guitar Technology, or golf or working on the talent show.”
JCTC strives to increase its level of proficiency with international education in-house, while offering programs for international students, such as English as a Second Language (ESL), Caribbean studies, Asian studies and anything else educators think will develop an international interest in students.
JCTC offers several summer retreats annually at which students get to exchange ideas and find inspiration. The Clinton Leadership Institute, offered as an outreach at the Denver Hispanic Studies Institute and sponsored by the Clinton Foundation, a not-for-profit organization committed to helping communities improve educational and economic opportunities for children, is another popular option at JCTC, inviting students to select a topic from a broad diversity of topics — the school will arrange conferences and workshops — and be considered scholars in their own field.
“The power of the Clinton Leadership Institute is that students get to practice their research skills with actual articles in the field. For example, they’ll work on a project on energy innovation and apply it to literature from their reading and the input from their peers,” Burton said.
The JCTC summer enrichment programs typically last eight days, including instruction, group discussions, performances, career exploration and others. Some lessons are published as documents that are available through JCTC’s website.
Diane Bade, executive director of the Denver Metro Area Educators’ Federation (DMAEF), has been working with JCTC for more than 30 years and is very grateful for the opportunity to help students develop an understanding of their surroundings and how they fit in to the world.
“We’re always so excited about students coming into our schools with the ability to put the pieces together and connect with other ideas that help them recognize what makes their community unique. That to me is such a great lesson. There are so many things out there in the world that are unique and special and that are not our community. It’s the fact that we have these things and unique to this community that we can teach the kids. That to me is extremely important,” she said.
“This is such a wonderful time to be a student in this district,” she continued. “It’s so amazing to see students thrive and appreciate their individuality and find that voice.”
Whether or not these experiences are available to the Jefferson County Public Schools district’s students, there’s no question they’re important, Bade said.