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RMHS Students Fuel Extended Day Program

A Prime Job Opportunity Awaits
RMHS students play a key role in providing extended day services at Barrows Elementary and the other elementary schools in the district.

At the end of the quiet hallway in Alice M. Barrows Elementary School, I could hear the faint voices and laughter of the students that filled the cafeteria. Long lunch tables lined the open space, topped with students devouring bags of chips and catching up with friends. Immediately, I was taken back to when I was this age, when my only care in the world was what snack options would be laid out for us. 

While you may think I look out of place in this setting, adults in the building do not even bat an eye. When I shared why I was coming into the building on a rainy Monday afternoon, the women in the front office were more than happy to show me right to the extended day area located in the school cafeteria. The woman directed me through the few halls it took to reach the space, asking me about my college plans and interested in hearing more about the class I was taking. I could tell immediately how excited the staff members become when able to engage with the high schoolers.

Extended Day in Reading

Extended Day is a program in elementary schools across the Reading district–and in similar form throughout the nation–to provide after school care and activities for students. This is an extremely beneficial program for working parents. According to the Afterschool Alliance, 80% of working parents are able to keep their full time jobs while raising their children. These working parents have a peace of mind knowing that their children are under sound care. After School programs offer many opportunities to the students enrolled. Students are able to complete homework assignments, engage in STEM activities, physical activities like going out onto the playground, or like Joshua Eaton Elementary School in Reading, participate in a program called SportsZone that comes in almost everyday to provide kids with fun games and exercise. By partaking in these activities, students have the opportunity to meet kids from all grades and have chances to interact with their peers. 

RMHS students are given the job opportunity to work at the extended programs at any of the elementary schools in Reading. The high schoolers go at the end of their school days and stay until a majority of the elementary students have been picked up by their guardians, most days ending their shift at about 5:30pm.

Getting the Job

Chris Nelson, Director of Community Education, has an office located across from guidance here at RMHS. He is the adult to see when interested in the job. “2010… the program has been running for 13 years. And high schoolers, I think they started right when the program had started, and we may have not had a huge number of employees at the beginning,” Nelson said.

The high school students can connect to the students in a different way than I can as an adult.

— Ms. Jackie Fox

Each elementary school program is unique. Nelson remarked, “Based on the number of students that are enrolled in the program, we factor that in, we try to have about 5 at each location, some schools have more because the numbers are more.” High school students are able to request a specific elementary school they would prefer to work at, and most times that request is able to be fulfilled. 

The process of applying for the job is just like any other. Once showing interest in the job, Nelson sends the straightforward application, that asks for the basic information about the applicant, along with acknowledging any past job experience. The application is returned to Nelson, included with a brief meeting discussing the rules and expectations of the position. The application is passed onto the human resource department, located in the superintendent’s office, where they will forward all the tax and working forms to the applicant that will be returned to HR once filled out. After being checked over and marked as completed, the applicant is eligible to work.

“It’s a really great partnership”

When visiting Barrows, I was able to speak with Jackie Fox, the site coordinator at the elementary school. Fox recalled coming to Barrows since 2010 – 13 years. She sees clearer than anyone the work RMHS students do with the kids. “I see a lot of really great stuff. The high school students can connect to the students in a different way than I can as an adult. They look up to them more, they value their opinions, they wanna chat with them more than they do with me. They really like to play games with them so it’s a really great partnership,” said Fox. the average day of an RMHS student at Barrows was set up by Fox; “The high schoolers come in, they help, you know they check in with the kids, they talk to them… they might help clean up if the kids aren’t playing yet, so they will help us clean up the cafe after snack because we start with snack and so many kids we leave a big mess. And then they play games with the kids, they help them solve problems, and work on crafts with them.”

It’s given me a lot of insight on what working with kids is like.

— Cory Kehoe ('24)

As the assistance from the high schoolers is beneficial to the adults in the room, it is even more rewarding to see how beneficial the help is for the Barrows students. “I think it’s a really great place for the kids to interact with students in other grades because we just mix and mingle. We all play together. We do a lot of problem solving so I think the kids really learn how to solve problems themselves, with guidance, obviously from the teachers. It’s a great place for having a lot of social interactions, because we are more focused on having a socially safe environment for the kids,” Fox remarked. 

Cory Kehoe, an RMHS Senior, has been assisting in the Extended day program at Barrows since the early spring of last year. Kehoe, a former Barrows student in her earlier years, is looking to major in early education as she plans to attend college post high school. Kehoe writes in an email, “My favorite parts of working there would be making connections with all the kids and doing fun activities with them. I also love asking about their teachers and seeing which ones are still there, or which have retired.” Kehoe acknowledges the large impact the job has had on her; “It’s given me a lot of insight on what working with kids is like, and how to go about helping them when they need it.”

Walking into the big, open cafeteria, I could not help but feel like a kid again. Someday these elementary schoolers will be high schoolers. Someday they may even work at the extended day program, making the same impact on the next generation of youth.

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