Student success and achievement are Anthony Tyler’s main goals.
Tyler is the administrator for the Extended Learning Program in Newport News Public Schools (NNPS). While working with students has always been Tyler’s mission, he says that the best part of his job is that he gets to work with the entire family.
For a student to be eligible for the Extended Learning Program, the student must send in an application and be entered into a lottery-style system. Students are chosen not just based on educational need, Tyler says. He wants the groups of students from each school to be as diverse as possible.
There are three main programs in which the students are placed, depending on grade level. The Extended Learning Program is available up to middle school. Students in grades three through eight participate in the 21st Century program based on their need for help with reading and math. This STEM-based program (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is all about enriching students within the history and science community, Tyler says.
We Leap is one of the newer programs. Tyler says that within their first year of full involvement, the program has expanded from elementary school-aged students to middle school students as well. During this program, the students are given the chance to work with community business partners who are brought in through the Extended Learning Program, offering students the opportunity to go on field trips associated with what they are learning. An example of this would be when Tyler took the students to the Frontier Culture Museum. He says that as soon as the Blue Ridge Mountains came into view, several of the students shouted, “They’re really blue!”
Tyler especially enjoys working with this program. “It really brings learning to life,” he says.
SPARK, the Summer Program for Arts, Recreation and Knowledge, pairs Newport News Public Schools with local businesses, museums, nonprofit organizations and city agencies to provide an engaging menu of offerings for students four days a week during the summer. With meals and transportation provided at no cost for kindergarten through twelfth-grade students, SPARK is a great opportunity for young people across the city.
The final program offered is the two-week SPARK Camps held during the summer. There are 11 community business partners who are working with these groups of students. Every day the students get a chance to go to these businesses and learn from those instructors. “We want our students to excel in a nontraditional learning environment,” Tyler says.
A few of these partners are Peninsula SPCA, Mariners’ Museum, Virginia Living Museum and Young Audiences—Arts for Learning—Virginia.
Overall there are 10 schools that participate in the Extended Learning Program. At present there are 100 students per school, but Tyler foresees expanding the number of students if the need arises.
As of October 2017, 951 students had enrolled. According to Tyler, the program is funded by federal and state grants. Part of Tyler’s mission is to create lifelong learners, and the best way to track that is by seeing if the academic achievement of students improves after spending time in the program. Tyler’s work depends heavily on data to show the program’s success.
This is Tyler’s second year working with the Extended Learning Program and a new curriculum has been implemented for the program. The curriculum and development department has developed project-based curriculum that aligns with the regular school day to enhance the program. Tyler says that while he wants the students to get a chance to learn what they need, he also wanted it to be done in an outside-the-box way.
“I’m excited,” he says. “The ceiling is high. We are going to keep on growing.”
TO THE POINT
Newport News Public Schools Extended Learning
Address: 12465 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Anthony F. Tyler, M.Ed., administrator