Spring is a season of renewal and our St. Joseph Extended Day program is experiencing its own renewal.
“The fun and frivolity are back,” said Jeanine Winkler, St. Joseph administrative assistant and extended day staff member. “Extended Day has found it’s happy place.”
“The room is joyful now,” St. Joseph principal Sara Myers said. “There are new games, a foosball table, an air hockey table, a ping-pong table, and more time outside. It has a different feel now.”
The “new” staff should be familiar to our students. In addition to Mrs. Winkler, the team includes preschool/TK aide Riki Albert, TK/Enrichment teacher Caroline Greenman, and kindergarten teacher Natalie Mahoney. Rounding out the staff is Mrs. Greenman’s daughter Anna, a St. Philip Alumni with Extended Day experience, and Mrs. Winkler’s daughter Nina, another St. Philip Alumni.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of the staff,” Mrs. Myers said. “They are in it for the kids, willing to stay a couple of hours after a full day to make sure this program gets back on track.”
Even the food has changed. Kids can choose between the “snack of the day” or fruit, as well as water or milk. Although the staff emphasizes homework, they appreciate most kids need a break.
“Kids have already been sitting for 6-7 hours during the school day,” Mrs. Myers said. “This is their time to let loose within reason. They need to relax and have some fun.”
Some students may be in one of St. Joseph’s fabulous after-school enrichment programs, but for those who are not, the Extended Day room is full of joy and fun.
“We start with prayer and reviewing the rules,” Mrs. Winkler said. “Then, we tell the kids, ‘We want to play, too. If you want to read, ask us. If you’re feeling sad, come talk to us. If you want us to play with you, ask us. We love to play.’ Seriously, the adults are having as much fun as the kids.”
Those adults include Mrs. Myers.
“I’m not officially on the schedule, but I go in there as much as I can just to sit down and play games with the kids,” Mrs. Myers said. “Last week, I got beat by a kindergartener in foosball. That was pretty humbling. I’ve got to work on my foosball skills.”
There are even some young adults getting in on the playing time, as St. Joseph Middle School students come in for service hours.
“It gives them experience taking care of kids,” Mrs. Myers said. “They are getting some service hours and having fun.”
The goal is to train new staff to continue this atmosphere of play, and even to extend the program into summer.
“Our true objective would be to welcome back summer care with very similar staff,” Mrs. Winkler said.
Yes, St. Joseph Extended Day has found its happy place. If your child is interested in any of our after-school programs, please contact Mrs. Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 965-7749.