HOPE – Youngsters at Clinton Primary School eagerly pour into Eddra Phillips’ classroom after school; that’s right… after school.

Phillips supervises and teaches the “Save the Children” after school literacy program at CPS, where eligible students in grades 1-6 are provided with literacy skills reinforcement.

“It’s primarily literacy, but there is some math,” she said.

While most of Phillips’ students are in grades 1-4, eligible students in grades five and six at Beryl Henry Elementary School join the program during the summer, she said.

“We even have homework helps,” Phillips said. “After school, we have a teacher that helps with their homework.”

Most of the program’s daily services are provided by Phillips and at least one volunteer, working with the children to bring them up to grade level. Volunteer parents and professionals may register at the CPS main office, she said.

She said students are assessed as to need at the beginning of the academic year, then at mid-year and at the end of the year to determine progress.

Students are encouraged to work at their own pace. Each child arrives after school and selects a book to read; then, when finished with the book, the student discusses the story with Phillips. If she determines a student has a sufficient grasp of the content, the child completes a quiz about the book and moves on to a new book, based upon passing the quiz.

“We focus in on literacy,” Phillips said.

But, the program also offers other components that address the welfare of the whole child, she said.

“There are a lot of games, but they are designed for physical fitness and fun,” Phillips explained.

The Healthy Choices component involves physical activity and nutrition education, as well as healthy snacks.

The program operates throughout the academic day at CPS serving about 40 students, while there are some 80 students in the after school component. The summer program offers some opportunities to branch out a bit, Phillips admits.

“Last summer, we taught them how to sew on a sewing machine,” she said.

The program operates through the 21st Century Learning Center umbrella to expand participation, Phillips noted.

“We’ve joined with 21st Century to be able to offer more to our students,” she said. “Anybody that is interested can enroll, but we are encouraged to take students who are from one to three levels below grade level.”

Enrollment eligibility information is available by contacting the Clinton Primary main office at 870-722-2723 during school hours.