The Community Education Program, established by the Bryan County School System in 1981, was begun to encourage maximum use of school facilities for educational, cultural, recreational, and social activity by the local residents. This program was created as a service to provide opportunities for learning and fun within the communities of Bryan County. The concept of community education is based on the principle that education is a never-ending process that should be available for learners of all ages, backgrounds, and needs. The community education program allows schools to become a place of learning for the entire community. Residents are given the opportunity to attend educational, enrichment, or recreational programs without having to leave their hometowns. The program encourages local citizens to share their many talents and resources as instructors. Community Education encourages the concept of a community school, a facility that is open beyond the traditional school day, and endorses the idea that learning is not an activity that occurs only between August and May and only for four to eighteen year olds.
An active "Just for Kids" curriculum is available for children of all ages with a staff of qualified, caring instructors. Approximately 1,000 children attend weekly classes that include gymnastics, dance, piano, drama, karate, art, crafts, and other seasonal activities. An academic-based after school program provides opportunities for students to remain on school campuses in a structured, safe, and adult-supervised environment while their parents work. The traditional after-school day includes an afternoon snack, a mandatory homework/study time supervised by school personnel, outdoor play and socialization time, and planned enrichment activities. More than 500 students attended the After School Program during the 2000-01 school year. A Summer Camp Program provides numerous learning experiences for 500-600 children each summer. Adult programs are also offered throughout the school year and provide such classes as computer/technology classes, self-improvement seminars, art workshops, health-oriented lectures, and recreational and craft classes.
All expenses associated with these programs - instructors' salaries for After School Program, Community Education classes, and Summer Camp; equipment/supplies; end-of-year exhibition supplies; office supplies; telephone fees; After School Program snacks; salaries for Community Education employees; office supplies and equipment; Summer Camp field trip expenses; and more - are generated from tuition fees for the Community Education classes or the After School Program. No state, federal, or local funds are used for any of the above listed expenses with these programs. In addition to supporting the above listed expenses, the Community Education Office also sponsors a Scholarship Program for financially needy families in the local communities which provides reduced fees or free sponsorship of children in the After School and Community Education programs.
During the last twelve to fifteen years, the Community Education Program has grown into a multi-faceted business that has provided an increasing number of programs for the entire family. The tremendous success of this program is attributed to the parents, children, and other community members in Bryan County and their overwhelming support and involvement in the available programs. The great appeal of these classes can be accredited to the wonderful staff of dedicated and caring professionals who teach the children's and adult's programs. Suggestions and recommendations are always welcomed for new courses - community input is needed to ensure the needs of Bryan County residents are being met. Call the Community Education Office at 459-5116 to inquire about classes or for additional information on available programs.