Steve Schroeder is the ACE Site Coordinator for Smithville ISD. ACE stands for Afterschool Centers on Education and Mr. Schroeder says, “ACE is the Texas implementation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant. Smithville is in its sixth year of the program. Currently, we serve kinder-sixth grade after school during the school year and for six weeks in the summer.”
Mr. Schroeder explained how Smithville ISD’s ACE program benefits the students. “Our school year program has two specific student components. Academic support - (during the first hour) Homework Help: which provides time for students to complete the day’s homework Tutorials: which provides intensive tutoring to a small group of 5-10 students. The second hour is for enrichment. Enrichment time attempts to provide some social capital for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity. One of our most successful and long-running enrichments is our Lego robotics class. Students build robots and program them to accomplish specific tasks. One of our new enrichments that has been well-received is our karate class where three students earned their yellow belts this year.”
The ACE program also benefits parents. Steve Schroeder stated, “In addition to the student component is our parent outreach to increase parent involvement in the school and in the lives of their students. This year we have joined with the parent ESL class at Brown, hosted an open house during Lights on After School, partnered with SES on several events including the family night at the book fair, the Picnic in the Park, and Bring an Adult to Lunch day. We also hosted two Parent Café nights where parents could visit with one another about parenting. One was held at the Rosanky Community Center and one at Hart’s Chapel. My favorite new program we have for parents is our partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Texas Outdoor Families which helps teach people how to camp and how to enjoy our state’s amazing park system. In April we had four families join us for our inaugural camping trip at Bastrop State Park. We have four trips planned for next year to continue to the program. In addition to parent involvement we try to find ways to help with parent education. This summer we are hoping to offer some computer courses for parents.”
There are also big plans for the students with the summer programs. “Partnering with Buescher State Park our students will have two weeks at the park to explore the park and do some experiential learning. We are also resurrecting Scientist in Schools which is a program developed several years ago between Smithville Elementary and M. D. Anderson Science Park,” explained Mr. Schroeder.