Cities in Schools, the after-school program based in Ardmore, transitioned from its summer day camp to its normal school routine.

The program, which began at the start of the year, serves students in pre-K through 5th grade. CIS Director Teri Tolbert said the summer introduced a few new aspects of the program, including a reading program where older students partner up with younger students and read to each other. 

“There was a chance for some calm interaction between older and younger kids,” Tolbert said. “It gave the older kids a feeling of ownership of their part of the program, and the younger kids like to hang out with the older kids.” 

The program had three certified teachers on staff to teach reading, math and geography among other topics during the summer. 

“Our goal is to fall in line with what they’re doing in school so we’re not teaching them something completely different,” Tolbert said. “We may not be on the exact same thing. We just want to enhance their learning skills, to give them that refresher before they go home.”

When students were brushing up on those topics, they took field trips to local libraries to see presentations and make crafts, visited Greater Southwest Historical Museum and visited with animals from the Oklahoma City Zoo and Extreme Animals.

“The Oklahoma Science Museum came down twice and that was really a big hit,” Tolbert said. 

The program is also changing how they handle their student assessments, short tests that show a student’s progress over the course of the year. 

“We’re going to do it quarterly now,” Tolbert said. “As new students come on we’ll test them as they come in.” 

The after school program includes activities as well, like story time with libraries. 

This year, the program introduced a new aspect to their day camp that will carry over to the school year. The Children’s Shelter of Southern Oklahoma will hold lessons covering life skills and communication with students.  

“We’ve never done that before,” Tolbert said. “It wasn’t geared toward anything specific, it’s just an overall program where they talk about being self confident and not hurting other people’s feelings.”  

The program started the year with about 40 students, roughly half of a typical year’s enrollment. Tolbert said she anticipates some additional students will join as the school year continues. 

“In the past we’ve not started our program on the first day of school, but this year we did,” Tolbert said. “I’m not sure we got that out.” 

In the past, the program started in early September. Scholarships for the program are still available. Tuition is $130 and income-based. 

“I feel our program is important enough, and there’s such a need for what we offer,” Tolbert said. “We do believe in our program and we do have very generous donors who help us make those scholarships available.”