At many Fresno County schools, learning does not stop at the final bell. If you were to visit a campus after three o' clock in the afternoon, you might see a STEM class learning about solar energy while designing, testing, and redesigning solar-powered cars. You might see a fashion design class where students make clothes out of recycled materials. Every afternoon, teams of students from Fresno State, known as "Teaching Fellows" arrive on elementary, middle, and high school campuses, throughout Fresno County, to provide a variety of engaging, hands-on, learning activities and to help students with their homework.
Fresno County Office of Education's Department of Safe and Healthy Kids leads the 3rd largest consortium of after school programs in California. Established in 1998, the consortium has grown to annually serve 143 schools from 26 districts and over 40,000 students in grades K-12. Collaborators in the consortium include Fresno State's Kremen School of Education and Human Development and two private foundations; the California Teaching Fellows Foundation and the Central Valley After School Foundation. Working together, these partners provide academic assistance and enrichment opportunities for the high-need student population in Fresno County, of which 81% are non-White, 23% are classified as English learners, and 73% qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Combining the resources of a county office of education, a local university, and two private foundations has numerous benefits. To begin with, the consortium benefits from the administrative infrastructure of the county office of education, through which grant funding and program oversight is provided. Local school districts benefit from trained, cost-efficient after school staff. Each school's program is staffed by a team of Teaching Fellows, undergraduates from Fresno State and local community colleges, who receive monthly professional development as after school educators, match the diversity of the students they serve, and many of whom aspire to become teachers.
The Teaching Fellows benefit from having paid work experience relevant to their major, with some receiving annual scholarships. Through working in after school programs as undergraduates, the average Teaching Fellow gets more than 1,500 hours of instructional experience with K-12 students before starting the credential program. This experience gives them a better understanding of the teaching profession and the information they need to make decisions regarding their careers. Teaching Fellows also receive monthly professional development on Saturdays that includes classroom management, lesson planning, project-based learning, and assets-based youth development. One Saturday per month, the Fresno State Campus becomes a training facility for Teaching Fellows as the university provides classrooms, computer labs, and other meeting places.
Students who attend Fresno County after school programs benefit from regular interaction with the Teaching Fellows, who serve as college-going role models and mentors from the same communities. They also benefit academically. The most recent evaluation studies conducted by ERC, an independent evaluation firm, show that high attenders (165 days or more) of elementary school programs are approximately 8% more likely to score proficient or above in English-language arts, and 20% more likely to score proficient or above in Mathematics than low attenders (1-15 days). High school participants are 10% more likely to pass the required high school exit exam in the 10th grade than non-participants.
For more information on consortium partners: