All-Stars program helps middle school students excel in school, life
Posted by Chrystian Tejedor
(Left to Right) FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, College of Education Dean Delia C. Garcia, Miami-Dade County School Board Member Suzy V. Castillo, FIU After-School All-Stars Executive Director Sean Prospect, and Miami-Dade County School Board Member Lawrence S. Feldman announced FIU’s partnership with the South Florida After-School All-Stars at FIU’s Reagan House Nov. 20.
For the parents of countless Miami-Dade middle school children living in at-risk communities, the end of the school day can be filled with worry.
Did my son make it home safe? Is my daughter really doing her homework? Are they getting enough exercise?
Erik Torres, however, isn’t worrying at all. Instead, he’s dreaming about all the things his 13-year-old daughter Victoria could do with a college degree thanks to preparation for high school and college success she receives at the South Florida branch of the After-School All-Stars program (ASAS), which recently partnered with FIU’s College of Education.
“It’s an opportunity for her to be successful,” Torres said at a reception announcing the partnership at FIU’s Reagan House on Nov. 20. “They help her with a lot of things like homework. Sometimes I’m at work so I don’t have the time, but over there, she can socialize and finish homework and they have teachers around the entire time to help her.”
Communities have a responsibility to help students like Victoria reach their full potential, said FIU All-Stars Executive Director Sean Prospect.
“Investing in our young people’s education makes so much sense. That’s why this partnership is so important,” he said. “We need to really emphasize the educational success of our kids.”
In South Florida, the FIU After-School All-Stars serves more than 2,000 students yearly in eight Miami-Dade middle schools. The program provides teacher-led homework help, introduces children to different career options and uses sports to help them develop a healthy lifestyle.
By January, the program plans to include nine more middle schools.
“There is a natural bond between the After-School All-Stars program and what we do at FIU,” President Mark B. Rosenberg said. “We understand that many of these students – hopefully all of them – will eventually be our students right here at FIU, and if there’s anything we can do to improve their readiness, we will do that.”
By partnering with FIU, the program benefits by adding the expertise of College of Education faculty who are pioneering teaching methods to help students succeed in popular Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses among others.
College of Education students will also have the opportunity to intern with the All-Stars program and gain hands-on experience teaching children.
“It is a win-win for us to collaborate and continue to move this program forward together as partners,” said College of Education Dean Delia C. Garcia. “I think the future is really filled with endless opportunity. The best is yet to come.”
For Victoria, an 8th grade West Miami Middle School student, all that matters is keeping her eye on the prize.
“I used to say when I was a little girl that I would find the cure for cancer,” she said. “The program doesn’t let me get off track. If I wasn’t in After-School All-Stars, I wouldn’t be doing so well in school because I wouldn’t keep track of my homework and I wouldn’t have the help of the teachers who are there.”