JSU’s College of Education uses grant funds to reopen Kid’s Kollege after two-year hiatus

Jackson State University’s College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) received a $79,200 contract grant from the Jackson Public School District’s Office of Innovative Strategies in September. The funds will be used to reopen the COEHD’s Kids Kollege after-school program and is part of a district-wide initiative to provide out-of-school time and experiences for all JPS scholars.

“The Kids College after-school program at JSU is an essential resource for school-aged children, encouraging safety, fostering connections, preventing juvenile crime, and improving academic performance,” said Jerri Haynes, Ed.D., dean of the COEHD. “Our goal is to create positive experiences for these students to excel in their schools and communities.”

The after-school program paused in March 2020 during the height of Covid-19. After a two-year hiatus, the program relaunched in October.

Tierra Flowers, Ed.D., assistant professor of early childhood education, is the former director of Kids Kollege and was tasked with reviving the program. The Kids Kollege ExSEL @ JSU After School initiative currently serves 60 first through third-grade students from Isable Elementary School.

“One of the goals of the College of Education is to provide service within an urban learning community, and Kids Kollege is one of the service components where we’re providing support to the community,” Flowers said.

She further explained that the initiative was also an excellent opportunity to give teacher candidates field experience by working with the program as a volunteer or staff member. Another goal of the after-school program is to decrease learning barriers and help serve as a recruitment tool for future JSU tigers.

The COEHD staff and volunteers will provide students with academic and homework assistance, reading tutorial, social-emotional learning activities (SEL), and physical recreation.

SEL is a process in which people acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, and achieve personal and collective goals. Student participants will also learn to empathize with others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

All practices and activities are based on the Mississippi Department of Education’s SEL standards. Tutoring sessions will be established through skill-check forms completed by the student’s school highlighting deficit areas as identified by the student’s diagnostic assessment reports.

The after-school students will also experience parent workshops, campus tours, and field trips.

“With an uptick in violent crimes in the city of Jackson, it is essential that healthy and productive social and emotional learning activities are fostered and nurtured in children as a mechanism to support positive interactions among peers and self-actualization skills yielding higher achievement levels,” Flowers explained.

During the program’s first week, Haynes read “Imani’s Crown” to the elementary-aged students. Reading to the youth is something the dean said she had not done in over a decade. Haynes former student Nadine Joseph authored the book.

“It was exciting to see their faces anticipating what’s going to happen next, and I think that’s the thing they need to get them engaged and involved in listening,” she shared. “When you are teaching, it’s almost like you’re performing because if your students are engaged, that means they’re interested in what you’re doing.”

COEHD administrators anticipate that the after-school program will continue to expand and service more schools and students in the Jackson community.