Visiting the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula at Belle Haven School in Menlo Park

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on December 20, 2017

To close the opportunity gap for students in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park, the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP) expanded learning time programs in close partnership with Belle Haven School and Ravenswood City School District, sharing facilities, curricula, data, and staff training to deliver academic and social interventions.

The BGCP program serves 130 active members (attending 3+ times per week) during the school year, and 210 active members (attending 4+ times per week) in the summer. Students benefit from 740 hours of expanded learning time, a 60% increase over the school day alone.

The program has three components, all delivered on the Belle Haven campus.

After School

During the school year, Belle Haven students remain on campus until 6:00 pm, participating in structured programming including homework support, academic support and skill building, socio-emotional learning programs, and enrichment including STEM, leadership, arts, health, and wellness.

“One aspect is the listening center,” said Shannon Petrello, BGCP’s Director of Grants & Marketing, who recently took us on a tour of the organization’s Belle Haven-based program. “A book is read while the students follow the words. We call it beautiful literature, exposing students to phonics and instilling a love for reading.

“Studies have shown that students who achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade are more likely to achieve school success.”

School-Day Support

BGCP staff members collaborate with teachers and the principal during the school day to share insights into our members’ experiences, strengths and needs. Mentors gain the knowledge needed to effectively reinforce school-day learning after school. BGCP staff participate in parent-teacher conferences.

“Reading coaches are a new position this year,” said Shannon. “There is at least one reading coach at all five of our school sites. Reading coaches participate in parent teacher conferences and
exchange information about what support is needed.

Summer Learning Academy

BGCP and the Ravenswood City School District have merged summer programs to use resources more efficiently and increase the number of students served. Students participate in a five-week, full-day learning academy with 6:1 student to adult ratios. They receive three hours of math and reading instruction from certified teachers each morning, followed by four hours of innovation mindset enrichment delivered by BGCP staff using Camp Galileo curriculum. 85% of participating students avoid summer learning loss, thus reducing the achievement gap.

“The majority of our families have been members for years,” explained Shannon. “Not only are we helping the kids on the path to school success, but the parents can go to their jobs knowing their kids are with caring mentors.”

More information about BGCP programs and how you can help ensure the organization’s continued success through volunteering or donating are available online.

Photos by Robb Most (c) 2017

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