Summer Express Program a great success!

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The Haywood County Extended Learning Summer Express Program, directed by Ms. Catherine Lester, was a huge success! About 95 students, ranging in grades K-7, engaged in various learning opportunities including technology, art, chess, science, foreign languages, and entrepreneurship, among other subjects.

Students were privileged to visit both the Alex Haley Museum in Henning, Tennessee, and the Casey Jones Museum located in Jackson. Both field trips were a means to expose students to the rich history of the surrounding areas. Another delight for students was the various speakers, including a visit from Mayor Bill Rawls, who shared valuable information for the students.

The Summer Express staff members worked very hard to insure that each student attending the program would have a rich, fulfilling experience. Overall, the outcome was very favorable, and each student was impacted in a positive and enriching manner.

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The H.E.L.P. program sponsors a “Lights On After School” event

During the evening of October 30, the Haywood County Schools Extended Learning Program (H.E.L.P.) held a “Lights On After School” event at all six schools. More than 150 interested community members, friends, and families attended the events at the H.E.L.P. sites. Students and staff did a fantastic job showing the Haywood County community what exciting things are happening in their programs during extended learning time.

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At Anderson students used dance and movement to enhance and reinforce what they learned during the regular school day. Also, the UT Extension Family Resource Center staff made up educational kits for every one of the H.E.L.P. participants to use at home with their parents.

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During “Lights On After School” at Haywood Elementary the H.E.L.P. site coordinator Ms. Sloan greeted visitors then had students lead tours of the site. During the tours visitors were able to see how their Extended Learning students and staff interact on a daily basis.

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The site at East Side Intermediate had a wall of lights for the event then community members got to visit H.E.L.P. classrooms for student-led presentations. Ms. Holmes, the site coordinator, led the tours.

HMS and SHLC participate in “Lights On After School”

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Haywood Middle School had the largest turnout of community members and the H.E.L.P. students made presentations to guests. Students and staff did a fantastic job showing people what a high quality Extended Learning Program is taking place at HMS. Each of the clubs gave student led presentations during Lights On After School. Several of the programs at HMS and HHS such as robotics and coding are direct results of meetings with the Haywood County business community.

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Sunny Hill Innovative Learning center H.E.L.P. students led tours through the facility. The students in Spanish enrichment have completed two project based learning activities so far this year. One about families and the other project about the day of the dead celebration.

Haywood High School also held a Lights On Celebration showing what the robotics, coding, arts enrichment, math tutoring and language arts tutoring. HHS parents, if your child needs extended learning help, please pick up an application at the school office. Haywood High is one of the few sites where H.E.L.P. has openings for students in the program who need some extended learning after-school assistance.

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The chart shows the Haywood County Extended Learning Programs attendance numbers by site for the 2013-14 school year.

The 2014-15 Haywood County Extended Learning Programs are  is off to a fantastic start with over 400 students registered and attending the program at all six Haywood County schools sites. Several sites are full and have waiting lists.

We do have openings at Haywood High school for Computer Coding, Robotics class, The Creativity class, mornings homework assistance and after school homework assistance. Interested Haywood High students can pick up applications from the CTE Office at Haywood High School.
Don Sims
21st CCLC Extended Learning Director
Haywood County Schools

AAA becomes Haywood Extended Learning Programs (HELP)

Programs open for enrollment

The Tennessee Department of Education has announced that Haywood County Schools has been awarded a renewal of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC).  The 21st CCLC is a competitive grant, which provides before- and after-school programs in all six Haywood County Schools. The grant was highly competitive with 147 applications statewide requesting $43 million dollars. Only $24 million was available and Haywood County School was one of a handful of recipients statewide to receive more funds than the last grant cycle. Funding amounts have been developed based on the following criteria: (a) Technical merit scores determined for each application by an external review committee, (b) Other 21st CCLC or LEAPs funding awarded within the district or community, (c) The service level of applicant during previous grant periods.

Haywood County Schools offers high quality, innovative, extended learning opportunities at all six schools in the county during the school year and two weeks during the summer. The name of the program is changing from the Accelerated Academic Academy (AAA) to Haywood Extended Learning Programs (HELP) during this grant cycle. The program will continue to offer after school snacks, as well as transportation home for participants. Some changes in the upcoming program is less emphasis on homework assistance and more project-based learning. Also, a Pre-K program at Anderson Early childhood center will be added in order to accommodate the needs of our parents while offering an extension to the instructional day. At Haywood Middle School the program will offer homework assistance in the mornings and clubs in the afternoons. Based on community input and student interest, a computer programming club and robotics club will be offered at Haywood Middle and Haywood High Schools as well as giving Haywood High students the opportunity to learn one of several foreign languages.

Don Sims, HCS Director of Extended Learning, said, “Haywood County Schools won the grant because of the high student participation level, parental involvement, and the outstanding staff we had in the former program. Our plans for the next grant cycle are among the best in the state of Tennessee, and we have the infrastructure in place to carry those plans out. Partnerships with the business community, GEAR-UP Tennessee, UT County Extension service, School Coordinated Health, HCS Career and Technical Department, and Haywood County Schools help us serve the students of Haywood County. We have more high quality staff applications than ever before and are looking forward to an exciting year for our HELP students.”

If you have a school-age child who is interested in being a participant in HELP, you can pick up an application in any HCS school office. HELP has a website located at: and a Facebook page under Haywood County Schools TN Extended Learning. Programming starts September 15 at all schools and student spaces are limited so please apply early. Enrollment is based on parent and teacher recommendations and the students with the most need who get in applications before the deadline are considered first to fill open seats.

2014 Summer Express Photos photos on YouTube. CLICK HERE

Haywood County Schools Summer Express Mad Scientists Video: CLICK HERE

Haywood Schools AAA Summer Express opens with 90 students

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This year’s Summer Express has just over 90 students registered with an average daily attendance of 89 students. The staff of 14 teachers planned activities centered around STEAM- (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) based themes. Activities range from designing and building a city out of recycled materials, do-it-at-home science experiments, learning about fractions, to making fun art projects. In partnership with School Coordinated Health and Le Bonheur, sessions were held discussing healthy snacks and eating habits with all the students. On Thursday, June 5, all the regular attendees will be going on a field trip to the Tennessee Safari Park.

On Friday, June 6, parents, families, and friends are invited to a community involvement activity where Summer Express students show what they learned during Summer Express in the East Side Intermediate School gym from 10:30-11:45 a.m. Mrs. Opal Hay from the Haywood County Schools office of Parental Involvement was a huge help with planning this activity.

We want to thank several community members for coming to speak to Summer Express students about the importance of STEAM and how things learned at Summer Express happen in real life. Don Sims, the Director of the Haywood County 21st CCLC Program, really appreciated the hard work, planning, and activities that the staff have for students. Teachers put in a huge amount of extra time planning for the success of Haywood County students. He also appreciates all of the community support that is given to before- and after-school students by the people of Haywood County.

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During Summer Express Ms. Amanda Masters and Ms. Beth Ann Smith had a program inspired by a STEAM program called “Building Blocks: If Kids Ruled the City.” They provided recyclable materials for the students to design and build a city. The staff members also invited Brownsville City leaders to talk to the Summer Express students about urban development. Summer Express students liked having a lot of green space as well as the use of green energy in the city they built and did a excellent job with the project.

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Summer Express accepting student applications

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The 2014 Summer Express applications for current kindergarten through seventh grade students are located in the main offices at Anderson, Heywood Elementary, Eastside Intermediate, and Haywood Middle schools. The program runs during weekdays from May 27 to June 6 from 7:45-12:15. Breakfast and lunches are offered for participants, and bus transportation is available if needed. Participant space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis, so please fill out your child’s application by the May16 deadline, and return it to your child’s school office.

Summer Express is open to Haywood County students, but has limited space in the program. The participants can choose between science, technology, engineering, arts, and music programming which are fun and hands-on. During week two of the program all active participants will go on a fun field trip, and at the end of the program we will have a family activity planned for our participants.

Don Sims is the Director of the AAA and the Summer Express programs.

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Grant Proposal

The Haywood County School District submitted 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) and LEAPS grant proposals to the Tennessee Department of Education on April 21, 2014. Any member of the public who wishes to review the proposal abstract and plan, or the proposal in full, and provide public comment, should contact Don Sims at the Haywood County Central Office. Any member of the public may also review the application and any waiver request after the proposal is submitted on Monday, April 21, 2014.

21st CCLC Program wins $10,000 grant

Don Sims, the 21st CCLC Program, and the Tennessee Department of Extended Learning are announcing that the Haywood County before- and after-school program has won a $10,000 grant for a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) robotics program. This was a competitive grant offered by the state for 21st CCLC programs to offer extra STEM activities at 21st CCLC sites.

Mr. Sims said. “We plan to have a robotics cohort during our Summer Express program and our after-school program during the regular after-school year and make the program available for regular day teachers who are interested.” Sims added, “Robotics will assist our students in the development of important life skills such as team building, engineering design, research, development of a project, and improving motor skills. They will also be learning new technology through guided discovery learning while doing trial and error techniques and developing critical thinking skills. While working with other students, they have the opportunity to improve communication techniques through written and oral communications with the development of portfolios to share with peers, staff, and families.”

During the robotics course, staff will be using the “Experimental Learning Model” where the students: A) experience the activity, B) share the results publicly, C) process by analyzing the activity and sharing it with others, D) generalize and connect the activity to the real world, and E) apply and practice what they learned. Academically the program addresses Common Core science, math, and language arts standards as well as TCAP SPI’s in science, math, and language in our targeted grades of 4th through 11th.

Haywood County Schools was awarded the maximum of $10,000 for this one time grant competing against over 100 other 21st CCLC programs that submitted applications across Tennessee.

East Side AAA hosts guest speaker and contests

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On February 13, East Side Intermediate AAA students had a guest speaker and several contests. Pastor Undrea Johnson spoke to the after-school students about African Americans who affect our everyday lives but are not well known. Then he offered prizes to students who could answer pop quiz questions that he asked. AAA students found out that Nathaniel Alexander invented the folding chair in 1911, and the ice cream scoop was invented by Alfred L. Cralle in 1897. One fourth- and one fifth-grade student won cash prizes for being able to answer his quiz questions. After Pastor Johnson talked about African American inventors, he discussed with the students the importance of being good citizens.

Ms. Sandra Humphreys, Principal of East Side; Ms. Catherine Lester, AAA Site Coordinator; and Don Sims, HCS AAA Project Director, were highly appreciative of the time Pastor Johnson spent with the East Side AAA students. AAA or the Accelerated Academic Academy provides before- and after-school assistance to over 600 Haywood County students in all six schools. The program has highly dedicated staff and the close support of Haywood County Schools District and School administrators. AAA is focused on the success of Haywood County students by offering challenging programming and homework assistance.

AAA students learn about the dangers of drinking and driving

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One afternoon during January, Captain Barry Diebold and two other officers from the Brownsville Police Department held an interactive demonstration at Haywood High School with the AAA students and parents. Two Haywood High AAA students had the following to say about the demonstration:

“My experience with the police coming and telling us about drinking and driving was very educational. I had a lot of fun wearing the goggles. It opened my eyes to bigger things. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!” – Courtney Green

“My experience with the police department was actually very interesting. The police officers were very fun but serious at the same time. My friends and I had a great time with the goggles and the relay race was really crazy. I didn’t fully understand the actual affects drinking had on your body until this experience.” – Kaya Austin

Pam Diebold, the AAA site coordinator at HHS, and Don Sims, the Haywood County Director of AAA, really appreciate the support that Haywood County community members give to before- and after-school students. Over 500 Haywood County students attend one of the programs, which are held at all six schools. The AAA program complements what is taught during the school day, helps students with homework assistance, and the AAA staff provides extra support to help Haywood County students be successful in school.

AAA students learn from field trips


During the week of November 9, all six AAA sites had field trips for any student who had attended the program for 30 days or more. The students went to the Sunny Hill Innovation Center and walked through Germ City which was provided by the Haywood County Extension Service. Ms Tiffany talked to all the students about pathogens and how to properly wash their hands. Then students had some Dominoes Pizza, and after the Pizza they went to the Delta Heritage Center where Mrs. Sonya Outlaw-Clark and her staff gave them a tour of the center and took a group photo.

Unfortunately due to bus scheduling problems, AAA students from Haywood Middle School only got to have Pizza and go through Germ City. AAA student Kelsy Mann said the following about her visit to Germ City: “Thank you for letting us go on the field trip to Germ City,” she said. Thank you for the cheese and pepperoni Dominoes pizza, it was pretty good. We learned about how to keep your hands squeaky clean. We put some lotion on our hands, and we went in a dark Germ City room to see how many germs we had on our hands. That trip was really fun!”

Don Sims, the director of Haywood County Schools AAA before- and after-school programs was happy the program had the funds to take over 170 AAA students on a fun learning experience.  He also greatly appreciates the community support. “The hospitatility shown by the staff at Sunny Hill Innovative Learning Center, Delta Heritage Center, Ms. Flodine Hudson from AAA, and Ms. Tiffany from the Haywood County Extension Service was very much appreciated,” he said.

Each evening REACH AAA students did a fantastic job assisting in setting up Germ City, escorting students around Sunny Hill, and with serving pizza to the AAA students. After the tours were over, REACH AAA students took down Germ City and made sure Sunny Hill was cleaned up for the day students. AAA staff and AAA bus drivers were a huge asset on the field trips and students behaved very well according to the sites they visited.

Mr. Sims also wants to thank the parents of all AAA students for allowing the staff to help them after the regular school hours. “We have over 500 Haywood County School system students who have participated in AAA so far this year. Over 200 students have already been in the program for 30 days or more this school year,” he said.

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AAA students at East Side Intermediate School

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Haywood High School AAA after-school students went to East Side Intermediate and assisted students with math homework. Mr. Ludwig’s Haywood High School AAA after-school students said, “It was a beneficial experience for everybody. We broke up into four groups of three-to-four students per group, and went into four different classes helping East Side kids with their math homework.”

That day, part of the time was spent tutoring the kids and part was spent going outside when the fire department came to give a demonstration to all the students. Those AAA students who are also part of the Air Force JROTC program at Haywood High School had an opportunity to share about their JROTC experience with a large group of students.

During the month of November East Side Intermediate had several community members support the AAA program by coming by and talking to the students about personal finances, providing fun entertainment, or talking about healthy living to the students.

Don Sims, the HCS director of AAA, and Katherine Lester, from East Side Intermediate, would like to thank everyone who visited East Side during November. On November 6, the Brownsville Fire Department brought the rescue truck, then the Haywood High School Tutors came by. On November 14, Mr. Dominique Bond and friends played the saxophone as well as drums and provided a mini concert for AAA students. On November 20, Ms. Christine Northern Jones discussed Fitness, and on November 21, Mrs. Della Ligon from First South Bank talked to the students about personal finances.

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Spanish students present skit at East Side

Students from the AAA after school Spanish program at the REACH Academy went to East Side Intermediate and presented a skit on October 18. Ms. LaWanda Parsons wrote the following about the activity:

¡Saludos a todos! (Greetins to All,)

Me llamo Sra. LaWanda Parsons. Quiero decirle sobre mi clase española en AAA. Realizaron una parodia del cuento, ‘Sólo Un Minuto (Just A Minute)’ por Yuyi Morales. En países de habla hispana la muerte se celebra y no se considera algo mórbido. En esto cuento corto, Muerte conocida por el Sr. Calavera, viene para llevarse  la Abuela Beetle. Sin embargo, Abuela Beetle engaña la Muerte haciéndole esperar en ella a prepararse para su fiesta de cumpleaños. ¡Los estudiantes hicieron un trabajo excelente! Un estudiante hasta se disfrazó como un hombre del esqueleto que es representado por la palabra calavera el que significa el cráneo.  Los estudiantes en la escuela primaria East Side fueron fantásticos. Miramos adelante a más oportunidades para mostrar el talento de nuestros estudiantes en mi clase de español.

Greetings to All,

My name is Ms. LaWanda Parsons. I want to tell you about my Spanish class in AAA. They performed a skit on the short story, “Just A Minute” by Yuyi Morales. In Spanish-speaking countries death is celebrated and not considered something morbid. In this short story, Death known by Mr. Calavera, comes to take Grandma Beetle away. However, Grandma Beetle tricks Death by making him wait on her to prepare for her birthday party. The students did an excellent job! One student even dressed up as a skeleton man which is represented by the word calavera which means skull. The students at East Side Elementary School were fantastic. We look forward to more opportunities to show the talents of our students in my Spanish class.

Gracias (Thank you),

Sra. LaWanda Parsons

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Community Partners visit Anderson AAA Program

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This years AAA Before and After school program at Anderson Early Childhood Center is off to an excellent start. Ms. Williams and her staff asked several community partners to come to the school and show their students how they help Brownsville and Haywood County.

Cindy Smith from the HCS School Health Coordinator went to Anderson for four Thursdays and demonstrated hearing and sound in conjunction with Krista Parkers’ unit on phonological awareness. Ms. Cindy has also provided the HCS after school program with an excellent curriculum called “Just for the Health of It!” that is appropriate for grades K-12.

During the week of October 14, Ms. Williams and her AAA staff invited the Brownsville Police, TWRA, and Brownsville Fire Department to talk to the Anderson students about the services they provide to our community.

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On Monday, Firemen from Station 5 showed students about their equipment and fire safety. The students got an up close look at a fire truck and the equipment used when fighting a fire.

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On Tuesday, Steve Henderson, a Tennessee wildlife officer, explained about his job and Tennessee Wildlife. He brought several animal pelts for the students to examine and the students have a better understanding of how important the job of being a wildlife officer is.

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On Wednesday, Officer Josh Masters and another officer, talked about the job of a policeman, showed their police cars and the students walked across the back seat of the police car.


On Thursday Anderson students did math games with parents in conjunction with Anderson Slumber/Number Math Night. Parents are always welcome to visit our sites during AAA before or after school time.

Please contact one of site coordinators if you are interested in visiting an AAA site. The coordinator at Anderson is Ms. Williams, Haywood Elementary is Ms. Stanley, East Side Intermediate is Ms. Lester, Haywood Middle has Ms. Hobock, Sunny Hill is Ms. Hudson, and the site coordinator at Haywood High is Ms. Diebold.

“We really appreciate the community involvement at our AAA sites and are thankful for the time spent teaching AAA students about how much the Haywood County community cares about them,” said AAA Program Director Don Sims.

AAA serves over 400 before and after school students in all six schools in Haywood County. This year the program has a focus on project-based learning, which ties in with the new Tennessee Common Core Standards. AAA provides a healthy snack to after school students, some homework assistance, and a safe place for our students to get some extra assistance with their school assignments in an innovative, hands-on approach.

AAA Summer Express program a success

The AAA Summer Express program was successful with 63 students participating. The teachers did a fantastic job offering hands on engaging STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). During Summer Express all the students enjoyed a guided tour of the Memphis Zoo, had a Zumba lesson, examined a Brownsville fire truck, attended extra enrichment from our district School Health Coordinator, and at the end presented what they learned to parents, families, and friends.

During Summer Express we had two groups of students using the University of Tennessee at Knoxville “Biology In A Box” program. According to UTK, “Biology in a Box is a fun and challenging way for entire schools to enhance their life sciences curriculum at all grade levels, and to encourage student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. The program employs a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to teach the wonders of the living world, as well as introducing the scientific methods and math skills we use to understand that world.”

Ms. Mary Marcantel and Ms. Ann Garret worked with one group of students and Ms. Dawn Lovelace and Ms. Patricia Gaietto worked with the other group. The students had a great time exploring several of the boxes during the two weeks. Everyone also participated in a field trip to the Memphis City Zoo and had guided tours which related to the boxes that the students worked with. Following is a photo slideshow of the HCS Summer Express Biology In A Box student experiences:

Students in the AAA program enjoyed time with the Brownsville Fire Department


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HHS teachers Allyson Byrum and Dumanic Wade shared several pictures of the first-grade students in their “Ready, Set, Show” class in the AAA summer program. “We tie-dyed shirts to wear to the zoo next week,” Mrs. Byrum said. “The students invented their own characters and picked out their own costumes to perform a play for Parents Day next week, among many other exciting activities. These are just a few pictures of the fun we are having,” she added.

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AAA at Anderson invites parental participation

On March 28 the AES AAA program invited parents to come in and play educational games with their children. Ms. Cheri Williams, Site Coordinator at AES, took some pictures of the activities.


AAA program a success in Haywood County Schools

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In its fourth year, the AAA program is all about helping students succeed. AAA stands for the Accelerated Academic Academy, and it is funded through a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the state of Tennessee Department of Education. “Our mission is to provide challenging before- and after-school programming that will meet the academic, recreational, cultural, social, and safety needs of the students of Haywood County,” said Program Director Don Sims. Mr. Sims has been with the Haywood County Schools for nine years and is in his third year as director of the program.

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In addition to the before- and after-school tutoring, the program provides homework assistance, enrichment time, and special help with math and language arts skills needed for students to be successful at school from grades K through 12. At HHS, the program is also providing Credit Recovery opportunities during the after-school program. The AAA program offers transportation home for most of Haywood county and a nutritional after school snack for all participants.

“We have a caring and dedicated staff. They strive to help all of our AAA students be successful in school,” said Mr. Sims. “And we welcome parents to become involved in the program.” “Our programming is meant to assist students long term so we encourage students to attend as many days as they possibly can during the AAA school year. It takes the child, staff, and parents all working together to ensure the child’s success during the regular school day.”

This year, Mr. Sims continues to serve as a 21st CCLC program mentor for Memphis and all of Southwest Tennessee. “The HCS site coordinators and staff are the people who take care of our HCS students and actually do all the hard work making our program successful. I’m proud that the hard work of our program has been recognized by the state. “I appreciate the extensive support the AAA program gets from HCS administrators on a district and school level,” Mr. Sims said.

AAA offers a new credit program after school program at the REACH academy in order to give those students an opportunity to graduate on time with their cohort. The program also added a after-school Spanish class as well as a math class to meet the needs of those students.

Another program that we are continuing this year in partnership with HCS and Gear Up TN is an ACT Preparation program at HHS and HMS during the first semester. This class was offered free of charge to all HHS students interested in getting ready for their ACT test. If funding permits, AAA will be offering the ACT Preparation class at the REACH academy as well.

A new program being offered at HHS is an after school enrichment class. The new class has a focus on first aid and forensic science. Credit recovery continues to be offered at HHS. AAA holds language arts and math tutoring and homework at HHS both before and after school.

This year AAA offers HCS science teachers the Biology In A Box program, which has hands-on biology activities for students in Grades K-12. The program was developed by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and is offered to any HCS teacher wanting to use the program. More information on Biology In A Box can be found at:

“During the summer of 2013 we held a two-week Summer Express from June 3 to June 14 attended by students in grades first through eighth,” Mr. Sims said. They held hands-on activities for the students and focused on what the 21st CCLC program calls STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).

“The AAA staff in all schools does an excellent job helping with homework and spending the extra time our students need to learn skills.” “We want to improve our long over 30 day student attendance in the program during the 2013-2014 school year so please encourage your student to attend as many days as they possibly can.” The following chart is our 2012-2013 school year student numbers:

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