Soaring High at Saturday Academy
Saturday Academy teachings are so instrumental that every single person hired by the California Teaching Fellows Foundation (CTFF) Afterschool Program attends the monthly trainings held on the campus of CSU, Fresno. Hosted by Fresno State Kremen School of Education and implemented by CTFF, training is dedicated to ensuring that after-school site staff learn how to operate at their highest levels as leaders and youth development specialists. The academy prepares approximately 400 after-school leaders who implement their sharpened skills at 70 Fresno County school sites.
This breakthrough training program for afterschool staff (Teaching Fellows), accomplishes what other programs aspire to: It raises the quality of afterschool programs to exemplary, commits participants to ongoing and long-term excellence and overcomes the two biggest concerns statewide regarding after-school programs: (1) retaining qualified staff and (2) adequate staff development.
Building Youth Leaders
Content varies in this experientially-based training and is presented by educators and trainers with first-hand experience in their topics. Workshops include site lead support, classroom management, lesson and activity design in academics and team building, incorporating elements of assets-based youth development and creating trust and unity. “Additionally, we have eliminated the ‘revolving door’ employment line by retaining our best and brightest,” said Randy Mehrten, Senior Director, Safe and Healthy Kids. This marks a milestone achievement in successfully addressing and conquering California’s two biggest after-school program concerns. It is not uncommon for Teaching Fellows who train at the academy, to stay in local after-school programs for several years.
Proof of Success
The results of building strong youth leaders are stellar. School principals marvel at how the academy-trained workforce brings exciting, new ideas to implement each week. Impressively, those ideas are accompanied by lesson plans that articulate and embed California’s Common Core Standards throughout the activities. Data shows regular student attendees of 120 days or more in Fresno County’s, Fresno Recreation Enrichment and Scholastic Help (F.R.E.S.H) after-school programs achieve significantly higher CST scores in language arts and math in contrast to students who don’t attend afterschool. K-8 report card: K-8_2012-2013, High School report card: High_School_2012-2013
Additionally, the academy’s significance increases exponentially because the Kremen School carefully recruits, interviews and refers future teachers to CTFF to ensure the best most qualified staff for the County’s schools. “You’ll notice that our Teaching Fellows staff matches the demographic makeup of the school, including gender,” Randy said. With an eye toward current and future needs, the academy operates on the premise that it is imperative to place competent college-attending staff in mentoring roles for children.
Valuable Training and Discussion Opportunity
Regular monthly staff development is a commitment to training that few programs provide and includes ample time for participants to debrief and discuss ways to further improve their site programs. Altogether, “we are able to drive the quality of our after-school programs upward as we professionalize the field,” Randy said.
In preparation for sending the most qualified staff into after-school programs, the academy reinforces competencies and productiveness so that staff members feel equipped, confident and motivated to stay longer.