JCPS expands after school programs to keep students engaged

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Robotics, chess, photography, yoga and hip hop. They're not your typical elementary school classes. JCPS is expanding its programs to keep students reading.

The school day is over at Maupin Elementary. Custodial staff takes up part of an empty hallway and the only noise is what's coming from room 121.

It's written all over their face. This isn't a regular class. "This is my move, the shoulders," says fourth grader Brandon Javay Duncan Jr.

If you haven't guessed by fifth grader Jayden Mitchell's moon walk yet, the class pairs hip hop with literacy.

"My principal brought me the idea and I was just like oh that's genius," Shatia Smith said.

The Diversity Equity and Poverty Division of JCPS is giving kids a place to go after school. 

"It's a likely chance that they might be home with an older sibling or a grandparent or an aunt or uncle," Smith said. 

They take an area that they need to improve on. "I fell a little behind because I got a B in reading though," Mitchell said.

"I got a C on my latest report card," Duncan Jr. said.

They're pairing a book with a passionate interest. "There's so much energy in the room because our kids here at Maupin, they love to dance. They are very expressive. So, it's great to see them doing that in a positive way," Smith said.

The free classes designed for third, fourth and fifth graders started a few years ago and go throughout the year.

"It is outside the box, but the point is to keep them engaged," says Vanessa Posey, Administrative Intern of the Diversity, Equity and Poverty Division.

It is now expanding to six locations to help students participate because transportation is not included. "You don't have to be a student at that school to attend a program at another school," Posey said.

Students take the books home at the end of the program. "Everybody is behind them. Even though they might not have it at home or in their community, their school is behind them. JCPS is behind them. We support them. We want to do things that reach out to them and hold their interest so that they can succeed," Smith said.

It's a little bonus for families to provide structure, engagement and a whole lot of fun.

"Oh I definitely think it'll stick around. I've already had some colleagues asking how can get it at their school because I've been bragging about the program to everyone I know," Smith said.

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