There are six ASU sites, one at each elementary school, during the school year. The summer finds the program downsized into two locations, Blythe-Bower Elementary School and Yates Primary School.
The program boasts about 50 students at Yates and 20-30 at Blythe-Bower.
Tamara Humphres, ASU supervisor, said students and staff alike have a lot of fun during the summer.
“We go on two field trips a week. Wednesdays are our big field trip days. They go places like the Tennessee Aquarium,” Humphres said. “They just went to the Creative Discovery Museum, and they are going to a Lookouts game and Jumping Junction.”
Each week has a different theme built around the big field trip. Science projects and various experiments highlighted the week students visited the museum.
Staff members at Yates took a different approach. Their students had a week of dinosaurs in honor of the exhibit at the museum.
Chloe Howell, Yates site staff member, said she designed her week to be Disney-themed. This means plenty of Disney-linked activities. The big field trip was watching the newly released movie, “Monsters University.”
Humphres said she looks for enthusiastic staff members ready to relate to the children.
“I really feel like they should be building relationships with the students. I feel like if there is a relationship with the child that helps building respect, which helps with [children] following directions,” Humphres said. “Part of that involves playing with the kids...It shows they care and allows them to mentor at the same time.”
All employees are subject to fingerprinting and a background check. They are also trained in CPR. Humphres said she looks for reliability, as well as individuals ready to get excited alongside the children.
Children can attend the program Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A schedule of activities from dodgeball to board games are prepared to keep students busy. Enrichment activities include lessons with iPads, yoga instructions from Five Point Yoga and guitar lessons.
Howell said the students are pretty worn out by the time their parents pick them up each day.
“They love field trip days. I love field trip days,” Howell said. “I think when we get more excited it makes them more excited.”
As a former ASU member, Howell knows how it is on both sides of the program.
She said it has not changed a bit.
“Every Wednesday we went on a field trip, and every Friday we went to the pool,” Howell said. “We had planned activities, and the staff was really involved with the kids. It really hasn’t changed much structurally.”
An initial $25 registration fee is needed to enroll an elementary-age child into the program. A daily rate is then applied. Humphres said the rate is the same whether a student participates for three hours or the full 11. A coupon on ASU’s Facebook page will allow parents or guardians to pay for nine days and get the tenth day free. The coupon can be used repeatedly.
The program is also continued during the school year. More information can be found on the Cleveland City Schools website at www.clevelandschools.org.
Humphres said ASU is not designed to be like school.
“We are academic, but we also have fun activities. My personal philosophy is to trick them into learning,” Humphres said. “I like having some fun things where at the same time they are hopefully learning through hands-on activities.”