The local 21st Century Community Learning Center program has caught the eye of state officials who were so impressed they plan to use McDuffie County as a model for Georgia.
"I feel very honored that they found that many good things and gave us such a positive report," said Luci Linnenkohl, project director.
"They liked our format. They liked what they saw and they want to use it as a model to help other sites."
Four schools in the county offer the after-school program: Dearing Elementary, Thomson Elementary, Norris Elementary and Thomson Middle. The CCLC programs are part of the No Child Left Behind federal mandate and are designed to help students meet academic standards while providing enrichment activities.
The state's evaluation of the McDuffie County program on Nov. 16 was to review the program against the goals and objectives of the grant. The evaluation included meetings with those involved with the program as well as a site visit to Dearing Elementary School.
At DES, state official Kimberly Smith participated in a parent/child workshop and discussed with parents and students what the program meant to them.
Ms. Smith, regional consultant for the eastern part of Georgia, was impressed with the way the objectives of the program were implemented. The program at Dearing, under the direction of site coordinator George Drake, reached students and their families while involving the community, Ms. Smith noted.
"The site visit went very well," said Linda Grisham, DES principal.
Part of the program's success at the school rests in the way it seamlessly fits into the day, she said. "We work together making sure this program is fluid -- that it is a continuation of the child's day and not a special program."
Teachers communicate with the CCLC staff so they can reinforce academic lessons and help students reach grade level and prepare for tests, especially the upcoming state tests.
In addition, the program teaches life skills and offers opportunities for enrichment activities.
"I cannot imagine having school without it. We have come to depend on it. We work hard to make sure the program will mean added success for our children," Dr. Grisham said.
The second visit from state officials to review the program is set for March 8 and will include trips to all CCLC sites.