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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Valentin Jr


The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program provides federal funding for the creation of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic, and cultural enrichment opportunities for children, particularly students who hail from underserved communities. At its core, the program focuses on key academic subjects such as reading, math, and science. This program is also intended to offer students a broad array of activities and to include families and the community in the educational process.

However, this program wouldn't be successful without the countless dedicated and engaged staff whose passion is to help young children develop into well-rounded adolescents and ultimately, productive citizens.

Ashley Higgins, an 8th grade Math Teacher at Dr. William H. Horton Elementary School, is one of those individuals. She recently sat down with ASPIRA Program Coordinator Soledad Aguilar to briefly chat about her role, the impact of the program, and what it means to her. Check it out below!

SA: So, how long have you worked with ASPIRA and the 21st CCLC program?

I have worked with ASPIRA since November 2020, and it has truly been a wonderful partnership.

SA: Students are often shy when it comes to learning new things. What are some of the daily things that you do with ASPIRA and the 21st CCLC to build them up?

Remote learning has been something new for parents, students, and teachers. As teachers, we have had to come up with innovative ways to reach our students not only academically, but also on a socio-emotional level. Of course, there were some difficulties in the beginning, but we have learned how to use technology and other internet-based tools to enrich students' learning and experience.

SA: How do you assist parents in the 21st CCLC program?

I have made myself available for all of my students' parents in case they needed additional help. I also provide strategies and tactics for parents to assist their child(ren) with their homework. This new for everyone and there will be a few bumps along the way, but if we stay the course, we can make this work for everyone. I am a working parent myself and I know how frustrating this style of learning could be.

SA: What is the biggest challenge that you face on a daily basis? How do you assist parents in the 21st CCLC program?

WebEx has been the toughest challenge. You have many different learning curves with this technology, in addition to navigating how to use it. Many of our parents aren't familiar with the program, so I am often teaching them simultaneously while I am teaching their children. Lastly, keeping our students engaged and interested has been an obstacle of sorts. Our students often face WebEx fatigue, and I have to determine different ways to keep them excited about the lessons.

SA: What is the best part of working in and with ASPIRA and the 21st CCLC?

I love ASPIRA because students can be themselves and learn in a fun way. Students need our support during this pandemic. ASPIRA has helped them tremendously.

So there you have it! If you'd like to learn more about the Dr. William Horton Elementary School, click below:

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