On Wednesday, October 19, students from USD 446's afterschool program, Kids Crew, traveled to ICC Fab Lab for the first of many rich hands-on learning experiences. "As a part of our 21st Century Grant, Kids Crew has formed a partnership with the Independence Community College Fab Lab, a creative space providing community and student access to advanced manufacturing and digital fabrication tools for learning academic and vocational skills," explains Kellie Puderbaugh, District Director of Learning Services. "As evidenced by needs surveys conducted when applying for this grant, there is clear interest among parents for life skills and real-world learning opportunities. There is also a need to improve math and reading scores to help students have academic success." The first of many visits for Kids Crew, Fab Lab staff provided Kindergarten and First Grade students the opportunity to think and design. Each student left with a trinket made at the Fab Lab, and in future visits students will be able to create, make, and take home projects of their own.
Kids Crew, under the direction of Erica Lemongello, is an afterschool program that provides critical academic support, significant expanded learning opportunities, and youth development activities for students in Independence Public Schools. Kids Crew began in 1999 with a grant through the US Department of Education.
It has operated continuously for the past 23 years and continues to be the only supplemental academic resource available to students attending Eisenhower and Jefferson Elementary Schools and IMS sixth graders. This successful program has expanded over the years to include before-school, after-school, and summer programming. It has built an enthusiastic base of community partners including the Zoo, Police Department, Historical Society, Science Center, and more. The Kids CREW staff continuously adapt programming to suit students’ needs and interests, and to engage families. The success of the program is measured not only through assessments, grades, and behaviors, but also through parent satisfaction. Staff rely heavily on surveys and observations as part of their external evaluation program to help them better serve their students and families. An advisory board, made up of representatives from various Independence organizations, helps by providing input and support.