http://www.voicesforvtkids.org). With the region characterized by rural open spaces, farmland, and forest, communities are known for independent and resourceful families that face financial disadvantages and the stress of economic struggles. Apart from sharing similar values and community hardships, residents of this region also share their isolation from the rest of Vermont.
Against this backdrop, working parents, tight school budgets, and limited transportation prevent access to high quality after school enrichment and supplementary education for the area’s youth. In a geographic area that has enormous wealth in the form of hard-working and creative individuals, natural resources and community mindedness, other factors inhibit the development of opportunities from which youth and communities derive tremendous benefit.area of Vermont have one of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment and reliance on public assistance. On average, 50% of the NEK’s population lives at 150% of the poverty level, compared to an average of 39% and 33% respectively for the state of Vermont and nationally (Vermont Center for Rural Studies). The NEK offers a paradox of being one of the most appealing yet most challenging places to live in the state (Vermont Center for Rural Studies).
During the development of our schools' strategic plans, members of each of our communities identified after school programs as priorities for improving academic performance and engaging students to become lifelong learners. The following needs were specifically identified:
At the same time, when school personnel were asked how students’ learning needs could best be met they identified many of the same programmatic features:
Clearly the stated needs of families, communities, students, and teachers overlap and virtually all can be addressed through extended programming in each school.