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New Jersey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Soaring Beyond Expectations, Aferschool Programs

New Jersey Department of Education Office of Student Support Services 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and Out-of-School Time Resources
New Jersey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Soaring Beyond Expectations, Aferschool Programs


Project Director: Maria Parham-Talley
645 Clifton Ave.
Clifton, NJ 07013
Phone: 973-470-2404
Fax: 973-470-2267

County:  Passaic

Serving School District: Clifton Public Schools

CCLC Sites:  School 12

Partners: Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, City of Clifton, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, Passaic County Sheriff's Office, New Jersey School Age Care Coalition

Serving Grade Level:  4th and 5th

No. of Students to be Served: 200

No. of Adults to be Served:  200

Times of Service: Afterschool: 2:45 - 5:45, Summer: 12:30 - 4:30

ABSTRACT: During the first semester of the 2011-2012 school year, Clifton High School was forced to lower its passing grade from 70 to 65 because so few students were passing their classes. More than one-third of the 3,500 students enrolled at Clifton High School failed a class with a grade between 60 and 69, while many others failed with even lower scores. Clifton's Christopher Columbus Middle School has been designated a "Focus School," one of the lowest performing schools in the state.

The Clifton Public School (CPS) District is not satisfied with these results.  We are committed to changing the culture of our schools - and change must start in the elementary grades. We have begun implementing new programs and curricula across our schools, increased professional development opportunities and developed new partnerships. However, Schools 12 and 17 face even greater challenges than our other schools.   Per capita income in their neighborhoods is just half the state average, and nearly 30% of families earn less than $25,000, despite the soaring housing costs in northern New Jersey. 74% of community residents in the community speak a language other than English at home; more than double the state average of 29.2%. Struggles in the community are reflected in school performance - School 12 has been declared a Focus school, did not made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011, and is classified as a "School in Need of Improvement, Year 4."  School 17, located a few blocks from School 12, has also struggled in recent years.

To help students at these schools overcome the barriers they face, CPS has developed MINDS IN MOTION, an innovative program model centered on Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). This program will take place at School 12; students from nearby School 17 will be escorted to School 12 so they may also participate in the program. Using certified teachers and trained staff, the program will implement the 21st Century Afterschool Science Project, an informal, hands-on science curriculum that uses a guided inquiry approach and is infused with language arts and math skills. We will offer students the opportunity to participate in Mechanics, Design, Tech Lab, Math Fun, Music Technology, and Sports Science. Individuals from STEM backgrounds will serve as frequent guest speakers; students will travel to science museums across the state. Parents will be offered workshops as well, making STEM learning a family activity. The program will culminate with a Science Festival to be held in the spring. This hands-on science focus will make students WANT to attend the program, teach them new skills, and excite them about STEM careers.

STEM will be supplemented by additional engaging activities, such as health and fitness programming, swimming, Student Newsletter, Readers' Theater, Visual and Performing Arts, and Community Service. Activities for students and parents will be offered by program partners Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, City of Clifton, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, and Passaic County's Sherriff's Office. Professional development will be offered by the Clifton Public Schools, Montclair Network for Educational Renewal, and the New Jersey School Age Care Coalition.

Our program staff will include certified teachers, youth development specialists, expert teaching artists and college students who will serve as role models.  The Student Council and Advisory Board will help structure the program, making it fully responsive to community needs.