Monday, December 18, 2006

Kwanzaa at the ASA

Over the past semester the 4th and 5th graders have been learning about Kwanzaa. They learned about each Kwanzaa principle and then lit the candles to represent each principle. Umoja--Unity; Kujichagulia--Self-Determination; Ujima--Creative Work and Responsibility; Ujamaa--Cooperative Economics; Nia--Purpose; Kuumba--Creativity; Imani--Faith;

Below are some pictures taken from their Kwanzaa presentation:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It takes a village

Last Saturday I went to pick up Chanel and Kashia from a photo shoot. As we were leaving, Kashia picked up an extra bagel from the kitchen. She then said, "Thank you," to the lady who was there. The lady commented on how polite Kashia was and told Chanel what a great job she had done with her child. Chanel shrugged the comment off and told her that her manners were because of the After-School Academy.

Thanks, Chanel, for giving us so much credit. However, there is no way the After-School Academy could accomplish what it does without parents like Chanel...parents who ensure their kids access every opportunity that is available to them...parents who ask questions and work to understand what they can do to help their child more...parents who see what's going on at the After-School Academy and try some of the discipline and structure that we use in their own home.

Of course, I believe the ASA does great things, but we don't do it alone. It really takes a village. And we have a great "village" at the ASA. :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Positive encouragement leads to confident children

Wyshina, Sylvia, and I were at a literacy conference today. They told a story about how positive comments can do wonders. Mike Moses (former DISD superintendent) explained that how he grumpily answered his door one day only to have a little girl selling girl scout cookies look at him and tell him, "You are handsome!" As a result, he ended up buying 4 boxes of cookies.

Isn't that the truth? We all want to be affirmed. A lot of times that affirmation will lead us to be better and do better.

Wyshina agreed with Dr. Moses and explained to me that Ariana (I believe she might be in 2nd grade), used to come into the After-School Academy and greet with her head down and her hand covering her mouth in a shy, hesitant way. Wyshina said she would always tell her, "Ariana! You have such a beautiful smile! I want to see that beautiful smile!" The more Wyshina affirmed her, the more confident she became...until now, she greets with a big smile and a good handshake.

Wyshina saw the abilities Ariana possessed and affirmed a quality that Ariana wasn't confident enough to share. As a result, we have yet another confident greeter in the ASA.

Way to go, Wyshina.

Thanks for sharing your smile with us, Ariana. :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Raising money for the ASA

We had a wonderful turnout for our ASA fundraiser on November 10. We had grilled hamburgers, smores, chips, drinks, candy, etc. The kids enjoyed a couple of activities such as painting socks and t-shirts which both cost $1.25 each. There was a chess game set up where the kids could play for 25 cents per game. Ravyn and Kendell both beat their teammates in chess and recieved a prize. The children played outside until it became dark out. I must say it was fun and exciting for the adults as well as the children. We had extra volunteers that day, some of Ms. Rachel's family and some others. Things went smoothly as expected.

-Ms. Fields

Go on...make my day! :)

Kevin Bryant is one little boy at the ASA who always has a smile and a big hug for me every time I pick him up from school. I always look forward to seeing the kids and Kevin. It makes my day even brighter.


Pre-teens taking initiative

I noticed that in Ms. Wyshina's class they were working on art. Deshala (one of our 6th graders) took the initiative to teach the kids. It was her own idea, she wanted to teach the children art. The volunteer that helped her was Jhor-Dai. They did a very good job. They are showing leadership.

Friday, November 10, 2006


What I like about the ASA is that it partners with St. Phillip's Community School to give the kids opportunities to "Discover Dallas" through field trips that are generally going out and having fun at the roller rink, parades (which sometimes they are able to join in), rodeos, etc.

~Miss Chanel

Bridging the Digital Divide

Monday, November 6, in Computer Class with the 2nd and 3rd graders, we are learning how to type and this week we learned about the home row keys. When we first started, all the kids were asking to get on other programs like paint or the games but when we got started they seemed to really enjoy learning how to type.

Ask our 2nd and 3rd graders, "What is the home row on a keyboard?"

~Ms. Wyshina

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Raising the bar

The coolest thing!! Our kids got their report cards this week and a high percent of our kids went up in their grades. Way to go After-School Academy!

~Ms. Wyshina

Setting limits

Today I noticed all of the kids when they arrived, they ate their snacks and did their homework in record time. This made me realize they are aware and utilizing their time management skills. We have recently changed snack time to only 15 minutes and made homework time only 30 mintues. Everyone manages to complete their tasks in the time allowed. GREAT JOB!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Coping Skills

I'd like to shine on Danyelle for excellent coping skills. One day at the ASA, another child said something that hurt Danyelle's feelings. I coudl tell because Danyelle became withdrawn and seemed very sad all of a sudden. A little while later, she brought me a picture she had drawn of a girl crying and words saying, "I'm sad because..." I thought this was a very excellent way for her to express her feelings, and it gave me the opportunity to reassure and encourage her.

Miss Rachel

Book Club progress

I'd like to shine on michael and Curtis for suggesting a great activity for Book Club. They suggested we take a ball outside and toss it back and forth while talking about our book. I refined the suggestions, and we turned the game into "Hot Potato." Jazmine, Curtis, Michael, and I each took turns. When the ball was tossed to us, we said something we remembered about the book, and later, what we would have changed to make the book better or worse. My goodness those kids can remember! They were telling all sorts of details I didn't even remember and really got into the game! We had to toss the ball away before a car would pass--everyone was a great sport and really involved. Thanks guys!

~Miss Rachel

Cool things

Every morning after I drop my kids, CJ and Phantasia, over at Ms. Chanel's house, CJ and Kendell play chess until it's time to go to school.

I am very proud of the children on how they are managing their time wisely in completing their homework now that we have our new system that limits the time they have to do their homework.

I've noticed how the Kinder through 1st graders behavior in my class has changed dramatically. They now listen to me and have respect for their classmates.

I also like how the staff is really pulling together ot make the ASA a success amongst ourselves and the children.

I would like to say thank you to Ms. Wyshina and Ms. Janet for believing in me so that I can take a stand at H.S. Thompson with CJ.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Shifting the Tide

The South Dallas Crime and Safety Task Force (an initiative of the FCE, a group involved in working with the community to better South Dallas) met with the ASA staff yesterday to hear what our parents/staff had to say.

Though the task force had originally wanted to do a survey in Turner Courts, Sylvia and Wyshina did an amazing job of communicating more pressing issues specific to our Turner Courts/Rochester Park community. By the end of the meeting the group had changed their agenda somewhat.

They invited a few of us to be on the Put it in Action bus tour (a bus with police, city leaders, and community members that goes through South Dallas so the residents can identify crime spots and police and city leaders will take notice and take action).

They offered to train our key community leaders in some strategies and ways to approach different sectors of our city that we usually have problems with (police and such).

Omar Jahwar, Director of Vision Regeneration and a gang prevention and intervention specialist, is going to work with some of his guys who hang out around Turner Courts to become our “protectors” because little girls are being followed after school by men in cars.

Ms. Hill has invited us to be her guest at the Southeast Dallas crime watch so she can introduce us to Paula Hill, the chief (I believe) of the Southeast division.

Changa, a good friend and leader of the New Black Panthers, has done some great work in organizing communities to help prevent crime. He has agreed to explore some of those options with us.

And, finally, the committee agreed to begin talking to us to find out what is already offered in TC and to look toward an asset approach of what we are already doing in TC.
I felt energized after that meeting. It is encouraging to know that there are people willing to assist us in creating the most positive community possible!

I am also so encouraged by the strong leadership Sylvia and Wyshina demonstrate on a regular basis. We welcome your involvement in this process. Let us know if you want to be involved. We are stronger together than we are separately.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Growth at the ASA

As a parent and staff employee here at the ASA, I feel the ASA program has grown a lot and the staff as well as myself work together everyday to make such wonderful progress. The children that attend are always excited because there is always something new and different. They work together. The interaction with the children is awesome. Although I'm a cook, I feel as though I offer more to the kids other than a home-cooked meal. I enjoy the children and from what they tell me and the hugs and greetings make me feel important.

~Ms. Fields

The Importance of Relationships

I recognize the bond that I have with my co-workers. Since I have been with the ASA, whether it is personal or not they have always been here for me.


The system is working!

I noticed that since we have implemented our new disciplinary system on completion of homework, the kids have been doing very well. they come in and begin their homework and are done before time.


Excited about Reading!

We had our Book Club with the South Dallas Cultural Center on Friday, October 27. It was so exciting! The kids didn't realize we were staying until 6:00 because we usually leave at 5:00 on Fridays. When they found out we were not leaving until 6:00 they were so excited. being excited to read! :) ~Wyshina

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"A big family"

I received this email today.

I enjoyed meeting everyone last week on my visit to the After School Academy. I enjoyed learning from Wyshina, Sylvia, and Rhonnie. They are so hard-working and very committed to the kids, but best of all, I could tell how much the kids loved it there! It seemed much more like visiting a big family than an afterschool program. I had a great time.

Lisa Vaughn

I don't know that Lisa had heard about our blog before she wrote that we seemed like "a big family." I thought that was cool that someone else got the same feel as we do when we're at the ASA.

Comic Book

I am so amazed with Micheal and Curtis, they are writting a comic book. The thing thing that gets me is how they interact with one another when their working on the book. Let me just tell you Curtis is writting the story and Micheal is doing the illustration. These kids are so creative, I will try to get some pictures and some of the story.

Our ASA Family's Meaningful Relationships

Our ASA Family's Meaningful Relationships

Hello all,

This year we opened up the chess team to 2nd graders and they are doing an excellent job. Kendell Jones(2nd grader) just began playing chess this year and has really taken to the game. I watch him each week and he gets better and better. I watched yesterday in excitement as he checkmated an opponent in 3 moves. He couldn't believe. To see that big smile on his face was great!!!. Great job Kendall!!!!

Hi, my name is...

You should've seen Daedrin (1st) and Joshua (kindergarten) yesterday! Both are new students to the ASA this year. As with all of the kids, one of the first things we taught them was how to greet.

When Ms. Aggie came yesterday afternoon, Daedrin spotted her standing in the office when he went to get his snack. Without any prompting, he walked into the office and greeted her with great eye contact, a firm handshake, and a solid, "Good afternoon! My name is Daedrin. What's yours?" and then a cordial, "Nice to meet you."

Joshua, who desperately struggled to figure out this whole greeting thing when he first came to us, has become an expert greeter! When called to the office for an activity, he was the first one of the three kids to stand tall, stick out his hand and greet Ms. Aggie. If you had seen how difficult the greeting was for him to grasp in the beginning and if you knew how hesitant Joshua was when he first came, you would be SOOO impressed!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Photo Shoot at Fair Park

Recently I met a guy, Dave Herman, who has co-founded an organization called Preservation Link where the goal is, "documenting culture through the arts." I had the awesome opportunity to be involved in one of his initiatives when he asked our After-School Academy (ASA) to be involved in documenting the fair.

As nine kids from our ASA gathered at the African-American Museum, he asked the kids, "What's fun at the fair?"

That was their mission.

Each child was given a digital camera. Each child was sent out to look from the eyes of young and old alike and figure out what is fun for different people.As we walked around, the future photographers in the ASA asked young kids, older adults, and everyone in between if they could take their picture. If people agreed, they documented their photo by asking them, "What's fun at the fair?"

Kashia Jones, a 3rd grader and a precocious child, absolutely loved the assignment! Dave talks about her in the email below:

Greetings, Janet here are just a few images from our excursion on last Thursday. I will bring all the images by the center this week so the kids can complete writing their captions and then we will put all their work on the web. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed working with your group of young folks...the little sista "Ms. Jones" was just an incredible inspiration for me and the work that I do. We have to continue creating a solid system of support for these young folks as they matriculate through their community.

Thanks again,

David Herman, Jr.
Executive DirectorPreservation LINK, Inc.
214.293-5352 office
214.337-3684 fax

This link ( has some great photos from the day (taken by Dave). Once I get the ones that the kids took, I will post them.I love knowing people who recognize the immense talents our kids have to offer if only they are given the chance to develop them.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

cheers for volunteers

I think the aftershcool program is doing a great job working with the six grade volunteers. Our children have really matured since the first of the school year. They have been commited to working with the other children on a daily basis. thank you again.

I just wanted to say that my children are really enjoying the program so far. I also wanted to say that I'm excited about the sixth grade program that you are trying to get going and I've also notice that the children from last year have matured a great deal since last year. I'm sending a "Shout" out to Jasmine M. you go girl, Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Getting started

Left: James (6th grader) teaches chess to the younger kids.

In our After-School Academy (ASA) I ask our staff to keep "Kid Watching" journals. I've learned that when we really observe kids we will see some amazing things. Our ASA is no different.

I love what I hear as I ask for updates in our weekly staff meetings. By watching kids, we notice that some kids need more help with their alphabet. We have watched "high maintenance"/active kids help younger kids with their homework.
Right: Jasmine thinking about her next chess move.

I keep harassing the staff to make sure and write everything down so we can watch their development as the year progresses. (I'm begging Wyshina to write about her latest observation of Curtis and Michael's comic book creation! :) )

Our "kid watching" updates have evolved so that now they include interactions with parents, observations of other staff members, neat things that happened at the latest fundraiser, etc. Our ASA has developed into a little "family" of neat people and neat relationships. (hence the name of the blog!)

If you are a parent, staff, or volunteer at our ASA, please post your stories about the "meaningful relationships" that we are forming in the ASA. Tell us what you see. Share with us what you notice. And everyone (involved in the ASA or not), feel free to read what people have to say and comment on the posts.

We love what's going on at the ASA. We hope you do, too!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Teen University

Welcome to the Teen University!
check out our blog!

Just For Fun


Marvelous Math Games

Marvelous Math Games
Numbers & Patterns
Addition & Subtraction
Problem Solving
Graphing, Probability, and Data

Language Arts Links






Welcome After School Academy Students!

This page is just for you!
Click on the links below for tons of fun games!

Story Time

"YO! YES?" by Chris Raschka

"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"
by Judith Viorist

"Martin's Big Words" by Doreen Rappaport

"Life Doesn't Frighten Me" by Maya Angelou