Did you know our Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools provide a variety of after-school enrichment programs right on our schools’ campuses?

Student photo from Photography Club

Since early 2016, our students have had the opportunity to learn piano, play guitar, compete in chess, take photographs, develop their athletic skills, work on their dance moves, and decompress with yoga.

These ever-changing, cost-effective, mini-enrichment programs may be our schools’ best-kept secrets.

“We thought it would be neat to have, along with convenient childcare programs, additional activities for the kids to try out that they may not have the opportunity to do so before,” said Cathy Erskine, BCACS Enrollment director and one of the program’s originators.

Mrs. Erskine tapped St. Joseph Elementary administrative assistant Jeanine Winkler as the program’s coordinator in 2015. Together, they started brainstorming, surveying parents, alumni, students, and staff.

“Once we got this underway, God started sending people our way,” Mrs. Winkler said.

Most of the classes are homegrown in nature. The BCACS community contains a deep network of people who either have the skills necessary or know folks who do. Outside groups, like “Bricks 4 Kidz”, a popular STEM program, approached the school for space.

Piano lessons with Ellen Tipton

“We are open to other people coming in as long as it enriches the lives of our students,” Mrs. Winkler said, adding all instructors have completed “Protecting God’s Children” and a background check.

Classes average $60 per session, with 60% of the money going to the instructors and 40% returning to the program.

“It is not a fundraiser,” Mrs. Winkler said. “It is all about enhancing the programs and planning for future programs.”

Mrs. Winkler strives to stagger class and session offerings so children can take advantage of multiple opportunities. Careful to avoid the holidays and spring break, sessions start in fall, mid-winter, and spring.

“Each time I am given a session, I am given a little more leeway as far as what we can do next,” Mrs. Winkler said. “And the creativity is coming out of the woodwork.”

Mrs. Winkler’s ears are perked for that creativity, knowing conversations can lead to inspiration.

A conversation with transitional kindergarten aide Riki Albert led to a “Science Fun” program. Another conversation with Mrs. Erskine led to a “Fun with Food” class.

And, in the middle of our conversation, Mrs. Winkler mentioned wanting a vocal teacher. My oldest child, a St. Philip Alumni, is earning her musical education degree…

Next thing I knew, we were trading information.

“This is exactly how this whole program works,” Mrs. Winkler said. “A conversation like what you and I just had.”


Those interested in taking, teaching or proposing a class, can contact Mrs. Winkler at jwinkler@bcacs.org or (269) 965-7769.

Consider this secret officially out.

Tiny Tigers Yoga

Giving our kids "more" and "less"
"Amazing grace - like the song!"
Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131