Wilkes University Joins Coalition Launching Luzerne County SHINE Program

by Web Services

Wilkes University will be the educational host for Luzerne County SHINE, an afterschool program aimed at improving educational opportunities for schoolchildren in the county.

Wilkes President Patrick Leahy joined Congressman Lou Barletta, state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), and Luzerne Intermediate Unit #18 Executive Director Anthony Grieco and dozens of educators, business leaders and students at State Street Elementary School in the Wyoming Valley West School District to announce the establishment of the Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE) afterschool program in Luzerne County.

The College of Education at Wilkes University will provide critical administrative as well as research support to position Luzerne County SHINE as an evidence based, education driven afterschool program. Wilkes students across academic disciplines also will have opportunities to work with the program. The offices of the program will be housed at Wilkes.

“A commitment to our community is part of Wilkes University’s mission. SHINE offers us the opportunity to continue that commitment in a way that will impact Luzerne County for years to come,” Leahy said. “At the same time, our students are also the beneficiaries, engaging with the community and providing service as tutors and teachers while gaining valuable experience working with youth.”

The program is a joint project brought to Luzerne County by Barletta and Yudichak.

“SHINE is a natural progression of what we have been doing through Operation Gang Up,” Barletta said. “The goals remain the same: to improve public safety in our region of Pennsylvania, to involve students, parents, law enforcement, and school officials, and to provide healthy and educational alternatives to getting immersed in gangs.”

Luzerne County SHINE will be phased in over a three year period beginning in Fall 2015. The program will reach 500 students in the first year; 800 students in the second year; and over 1,000 students in the third year of operation. The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum.  Relying heavily on a STEAM core, SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation. 

“We all understand that afterschool programming is an essential tool to boost academic achievement, improve school attendance and engage parents in their child’s education; but it is a tool Luzerne School Districts do not presently have at their disposal,” Senator Yudichak added. “Luzerne County SHINE is the resource that can make a difference in outcomes of our schools and in the lives of our children.”

In the first year, Luzerne County SHINE projects that start-up costs will be roughly $75,000; annual operating costs will range from $1 million to $1.7 million depending on the number of students involved in the program.  The majority of funding for afterschool programming comes from a combination of federal, state and private funding sources.

“Over the last few years school districts have been asked to do more with less while trying to meet the increased social and educational demands being put on our public schools systems,” Dr. Anthony Grieco, Executive Director, Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18, said. “The SHINE program addresses many of the issues through research-based, proven practices to engage learners at an early age while involving their families, schools and the community to clear barriers to success and provide educational and career opportunities for all students.”

The Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE) program is a successful, award winning afterschool program that has worked in Carbon and Schuylkill County school districts for the past decade.

“I can testify that not only is it enormously successful in terms of the results that we get from students who participate in the SHINE program but just as importantly administratively – the parents who participate in the program are also more involved in the school community,” added Dr. Barbara Conway, retired superintendent of the Jim Thorpe Area School District.

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