Public PK-12 School District in Dalton, Georgia

Dalton Public Schools News

Kid City Sees Success Despite COVID-19 Challenges
Kid City Sees Success Despite COVID-19 Challenges
Students learning at table in Kid City

In a year filled with quarantines, virtual school and mask-wearing, Kid City still managed to surpass their growth goals for 2021.

Kid City is an after-school program funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant. The district will receive $321,938 every year over a five-year cycle of this grant.

This year, Kid City faced significant challenges due to COVID-19. Due to safety concerns, the program wasn't able to start back up with students until the beginning of October. Even then, they had to keep class sizes small, wear masks and social distance.

Malisa Pedro, program director, said that all of the safety precautions were worth it to be able to continue to meet with students face-to-face.

"I am really proud that we were able to remain open and offer face-to-face programing," Pedro said. "When it comes to 21st century programs most of the programs in the state were still virtual and a lot of that is because school systems are still virtual. I think that us being able to stay open, the school system staying open, but then us offering additional education services after school, we were really able to support our students."

Kid City's goal was to have at least 50 percent of its students meet their projected growth on their Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests. They exceeded their goal, with 55 percent of students meeting their projected growth in reading and 63 percent meeting their projected growth in math.

Allie Tinker is a teacher at Blue Ridge and the interim site coordinator at Kid City. She credits the program's newly adopted math curriculum with the increase in growth this year. According to Tinker, the new curriculum is very connected to the work students are doing in the classroom every day.

"As a classroom teacher, I have definitely seen more leaps with the new math program that we have adopted," Tinker said. "I have seen the connection between what we are doing in the curriculum to what we are doing in the classroom."

While literacy and math have been the main focus of Kid City this year, the program also spent a significant amount of time each day focused on social and emotional learning. COVID-19 brought a lot of fear and isolation to students, so it was important to spend time addressing social-emotional gaps as well as educational ones.

Two students writing at Kid City

According to Pedro, students spend time daily focusing on positive character traits including gratitude, thankfulness and patience. They also participate in lessons focused on physical fitness and emotional management.

"I personally feel like that has been one of the things that COVID affected more," Pedro said. "You see academic loss, but the isolation and the fear of getting sick, I think it impacted all of us more than we realize. We have been intentional in addressing that, and I think one of the biggest benefits or our program is that we are providing a safe place for the kids to come after school."

Kid City is not taking a break for summer, and they will continue to focus on math, literacy and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activities. In addition, students will be able to participate in fun activities including visits from the Creative Discovery Museum and the Chattanooga Zoo.

"The goal for this summer is that we don't want students to lose any momentum," Pedro said. "We want to continue to close the gaps that they suffered in this last year with COVID and being out of school for 6-7 months. So, if we can make sure we don't fall back this summer and if we can close even more gaps, that would be our goal."

In the fall, Pedro says she hopes they will be able to accept additional students as COVID restrictions are lifted. For more information about Kid City, please contact your child's school counselor or visit their Facebook page at this link.