The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

School age program receives top accreditation


USAF photo: Airman 1st Class Maynelinne De La Cruz Maria Lugaro, a School Age Program assistant, teaches children how to make holiday pajama pants . The program received 5-star accrediation by the National Afterschool Association, and is one of only eight accredited programs in New Mexico.

When parents drops off their child or children for the base’s school age program, they know the program has met the highest of national standards.

Following a review of how the Cannon program operates, the types of programs it conducts and documentation, The National Afterschool Association gave a thumbs-up 5-star accreditation that is good for four years.

“The base’s School Age Program met standards for afterschool care, earned a coveted five star rating and is one of only eight programs in New Mexico that is accredited,” said Denise Vanderwarker, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron Family Services flight chief.

“The National Afterschool Association trains endorsers who come out to review documents and observe the program,” she said. “The significance of accreditation is that the program has met national standards for afterschool care, the highest quality a program can achieve.”

A quick glance at the wall in the study room shows that the program is much more than a babysitting service for working parents. There are various posters that adorn the walls, some with the different types of triangles to posters with common fractions. They are colorful and bright, but all have a common thread — reinforcement of what children learn in school. In another room, clocks denoting the time in places such as Iraq show the military connection all the children have.

“We are not babysitters, we’re here to teach” said Monique Hyman, program manager. She added that although the Air Force maintains high standards, she and her staff of 17 spent a year preparing for the accreditation. Program assistants prepare lesson plans, a degreed teacher works with children on their assignments and there is even a cook on board.

She said that she and her team are proud that they can expose children to many new extracurricular activities and help them build important life skills.

“We’re also here to make learning fun for them,” said Hyman, who also has a teaching degree and has been at Cannon for five-and-a-half years. “The biggest compliment I can hear is a child telling his or her parent, ‘I’m not ready to leave yet.”

“Above all, we are here to provide a safe environment for children.”

The School Age Program currently has 96 children enrolled in the program. Cost is determined by income. For information on the program, call 784-2747.


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