BLAST, Butler Elementary School's after-school program, has a new coordinator.
Lyndsey Steck replaces Sherri Schill, who resigned in May after 13 years with the Fort Dodge Community School District. Schill started the BLAST program in 1999.
Steck, a newcomer to the district, has a master's degree in psychology and has worked in counseling for the past 10 years. She has also been an adjunct instructor at Iowa Central Community College.
Steck began work as the new BLAST coordinator at the start of August.
"It's exciting," she said. "I think it's a great program for the kids. It increases their reading and math scores. Butler used to be ... a school in need of assistance, and they're no longer that. I truly believe that's because BLAST has brought that opportunity to the kids, to get their reading and math scores up."
Steck had heard of BLAST before.
"My mom is actually the coordinator on the after-school program at (St. Edmond Catholic School) and they based that program off BLAST. That started last year," she said.
Especially appealing to Steck is the opportunity to work with children.
"I love working with kids. It's what drew me to this position when I saw it was available," she said. "I just like working with kids. I feel it gratifying when you see them succeed later in life."
Already, Steck has a bevy of activities planned for the BLAST students, including a different guest speaker each month. She will also continue BLAST's traditional activities and events.
"We're going to continue with the normal programs that Sheri did," she said. "She did Lights on After School in October. And then we do flashlight reading in January. I'm going to have the police department come talk about stranger danger. And we'll have a magic show for the kids with Larry Dunbar in December."
Parents don't have to worry about any changes being made to the program.
"We really can't change it," Steck said. "It's a grant-based program and the grant provides really strict guidelines, such as the power hour. The first hour that the kids are here is homework, math and reading. And the grant has very strict requirements as to what we have to provide for the kids."
After the power hour is an hour of enrichment, Steck said.
"This can be computer lab time, working on other skills. Some days we do crafts, some days we do cooking," she said. "The last little bit they can participate in rec, until BLAST ends at six."
Mike Woodall, Butler Elementary principal, said Steck is doing an excellent job.
"She's come in and really picked things up and continued things as we did in the past," Woodall said. "The BLAST program has been very successful on raising student scores and working with kids basically with citizenship and helped, of course, to get a lot of the kids to have a place to go after school, so we don't have a lot of latch-key kids. It gives parents an option here."
Woodall, too, is excited about the program starting for the 2012-2013 school year.
"We're looking forward to getting the kids in here," he said. "Right now, the program's full. She's got it running to capacity. It's an exciting thing to have a new person."
BLAST starts Tuesday and goes through May 17.