New Highland Elementary School has been awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the Kentucky Department of Education. 

This grant serves the purpose of establishing before-school, after-school and summer learning opportunities for students.  The program includes opportunities for both academic support and enrichment that comprises a variety of clubs and activities targeted to the interests of the students.

The grant is awarded for a five-year period with a total disbursement of $662,500.  The 21st Century Community Learning Center grants stem from a competitive grant program targeting Title I schools across the nation.  A total of 33 grants were awarded in this year’s grant cycle.  

“We are beyond excited,” Hardin County Schools Superintendent Teresa Morgan said.  “This grant allows us more time with students and helps us help them reach well beyond their goals.  We are tremendously thankful for the community partnerships portion of this as well.  Lots of people can come into New Highland and bring real-world experiences in a more relaxed learning environment.  Mrs. Packer and her team have big plans in the works and will utilize every resource this grant provides.”

The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant will allow New Highland Elementary to continue the positive trends it has been experiencing in academics and social/emotional development.  The funds will accelerate student learning specifically in the following areas: 

  • creative processes
  • meaningful collaboration
  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • hands-on learning experiences
  • exploration of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields, particularly for female students
  • unique ways to value the arts

“We look forward to collaborating with our community partners to provide our students with exceptional learning experiences,” New Highland Elementary School Principal Chalis Packer added.  “The experience will be one that enriches the whole child. New Highland strives to provide excellence through education and the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant is another resource that will help us reach that goal.”

The United Way of Central Kentucky is a co-applicant on the grant.  UWCK will bring parent and family engagement activities, student literacy initiatives and mentoring opportunities for community volunteers.

“United Way of Central Kentucky is proud to fight for the education of our local students and is thrilled to partner with Hardin County Schools on the 21st Century Learning Center program,” UWCK President/CEO Ron Eppes said.  “Tackling education challenges require United Way to develop a continuum of supports that prevent children from slipping through the cracks and needing more serious and costly interventions in the future as adults. That is why we are excited for students to receive the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom through this program – helping make it a success by providing community partner connections and volunteer recruitment.”

Other community partners include the Hardin County Public Library, the Hardin County Cooperative Extension Office, the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, HCS Family Resource and Youth Service Centers and faith-based organizations.

“A good portion of students are a couple of months behind in reading when they return to school in August each year,” HCS Director of Federal Programs and Leadership Development Karen Lee said.  “This program will help students excel in safe and relaxed learning environments.  There is a mental health component and opportunities for successful men and women in our community to connect with students before and after school.  This will allow students to see school in different and more unique ways than ever before.” 

“We are thankful for every partner and for every person will help our students succeed,” Morgan added.  “However, this would not be possible without the work of Karen Lee.  She has tremendous experience with 21st Century Community Learning Center grants and has seen how students develop beyond anyone’s expectations because of the grant’s focus and student-centered approach.  We truly appreciate Karen’s passion and expertise for this program.”

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