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Heritage School Wins $375,000 Grant For After-School Programs

The Heritage School was awarded one of 183 federal grants for after-school programs awarded earlier this month at a ceremony at the White House.

Among the excited recipients on hand for the presentation was Cathleen Kiebert-Gruen, a doctoral student in the Department of Arts and Humanities and Director of After-School and Community Programs at the Heritage School.

Kiebert-Gruen worked closely with Betty Farbman, Director of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs, to prepare the grant application. The grant will provide the school with $125,000 a year for three years. It will allow Kiebert-Gruen and Susan Bartolone, Principal of the Heritage School, to augment the after-school programs they began last spring.

The Heritage School is a unique partnership between Teachers College and the New York City Board of Education. The public high school, which serves 9th and 10th grade students, was inspired by Judith Burton, Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities. The school offers a curriculum that is based on learning in the classroom and in culturally oriented businesses, museums and libraries.

To understand how important the grant is, you must understand the student population that the Heritage School serves, Kiebert-Gruen explained in the grant application.

All of the students qualify for free lunch, a major indicator of low income. Many of the students need academic assistance. Entering students in 1997 tested at 75 percent or below grade level in reading compared to students citywide of whom 45.8 percent were at or above grade level. Half of the entering class of students in 1997 tested between the 26th and 64th percentile in math. "We'd like to see them test higher," Kiebert-Gruen said. To tackle those issues, the school is going to use the grant to expand two key programs-"Homework Support" and "Family in a School."

The "Homework Support" program will provide tutoring in English, Spanish, math, social studies and biology. The "Family in a School" will offer advice on parenting skills, job referrals, computer training, and advice on how to prepare a child for college. Kiebert-Gruen said that studies show that when parents are involved in school their children's academic performance improves.

Other components of the after-school program include classes in the arts, drama and literature. There is also a comprehensive health program that includes physical education, health education sessions to address the concerns that students and their parents have about drug abuse and teenage pregnancy.

"In a nutshell, it keeps kids off the streets after school," said Principal Bartolone. But it does so much more. "The programs allow us to have more of an impact in the community as well as getting parents more involved in school."

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