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Ava R-I Schools Bears Den Program

Photo submitted Fourth graders are shown above learning how to use a 3D pen during Bears Den, the afterschool program. Ms. Thompson, center, is the STEM teacher.

By Diana Premer

The Bears Den before and after school program is funded by the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant.  This grant is a competitive grant that provides funding to grantees to implement before- and after-school programs.  The grant is a five-year grant and runs until May 2022.  The school district operates two sites:  Ava Elementary and Ava Middle School.  The program averages 204 students per day.

Each year, 21st CCLC grantees undergo an outside evaluation process that reviews the program’s progress related to three board afterschool goals:  1) academic improvement and efficacy, 2: program quality, and 3) youth outcomes.  Each Site records attendance and grade data, receives a program quality assessment (PQA) observation, and completes a series of afterschool surveys with responses from youth, families, program staff, and school administrators.  An outside evaluator meets with the program administrator to review the data and complete a reflection document.  Results from the evaluation ensure grant compliance and gives feedback so the program can make changes in the activities provided for students and staff.  

Bears Den serves students in PK through 8th grade.  The elementary program opens in the elementary cafeteria at 6:45 a.m. The middle school program opens at 7:00 a.m. in the middle school gym.  The afterschool program runs from 3:15 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. each evening.  There is bus transportation home each night with designated routes and stops similar to Summer School.

Bears Den is very affordable for families.  The cost is based on the student’s lunch status.  $1 per day for students on free lunches, $2 per day for students on reduced lunches, and $3 per day for students on full-priced lunches.  No student or family will be denied services from our program for financial reasons.  

Program staff include certified teachers and staff from the district and community members who have passed a background check.  Trainings and staff meetings are held throughout the year. 

Individuals interested in receiving  more information about the before or afterschool program Bears Den, please contact Diana Premer, (417) 543-0337.