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Tiger Academy offers additional support to students

A little extra help never hurt anyone. In fact, it turns out, through School District 192's Tiger Academy, that extra help does quite a bit of good.

An after-school program just gearing up for its third session, Tiger Academy is still relatively new to the school district, Akin Road Elementary School principal Karen Bergman said. It's designed to give students who might need a little extra push academically the attention they need.

The project is paid for through targeted services funding that comes through Intermediate School District 917, a collaborative district that targets students with special needs. Given that aspect, Tiger Academy has to have an element of support for students who are struggling academically or socially in school.

Students who are enrolled receive extra help in the areas of math and reading -- those are required subjects -- but they also have to spend some time doing fun activities that help them build social skills. The program is required to have a physical fitness portion, so they kids get a little extra exercise and aren't sitting for hours after school.

The third Tiger Academy sessions start Tuesday, Nov. 2, and will continue through Dec. 16. The programs are pretty much the same from building to building -- all five elementary schools and both middle schools have Tiger Academy programs -- and this year, transportation is being offered so those kids who stay after school can get the help they need and still get home when the classes are done.

"For us to provide transportation, that has made a big difference in the number of kids who are able to participate," Bergman said. "Especially for the kids who need extra support. A lot of times, they wouldn't have a way home."

Going into this session, Akin Road Elementary probably has the highest number of kids enrolled, with 96. The middle schools have 30 to 35 each. Bigger numbers don't necessarily mean the students are going to lack one-on-one time. Students are grouped with others who have similar needs.

"There's almost a higher level of intensity for those kids, because they're grouped with others, with kids of similar needs," Bergman said.

The students will spend about an hour and a half after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Besides the activities planned through Tiger Academy, the kids also get a period of 15 minutes or so to work through homework with a teacher or advisor.

"Sometimes just that 10 or 15 minutes at the end of each session where staff can work on homework with the kids can make a huge difference with what that student is going home with at the end of the day," Bergman said.

Students are enrolled by their parents, Bergman said. The schools send out information and newsletters about the program, but a lot of times, teachers will identify the students who could use a little help and send a letter home to parents, too.

Even though the next session starts next week, parents may still contact their child's school to register. Another session will be held from Feb. 1 through March 24.

"For some kids, it's just one more safety net we can put in place for them," Bergman said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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