April 24, 2016
By Dennis Phillips (dphillips@post-journal.com), Post-Journal

Experiences outside of school affect how a child performs in the classroom.

That is why Patrick Morris, CODE Inc. executive director, was proud to announce that out of 150 students in the Jamestown Public Schools District living in CODE housing, zero dropped out of school in 2015. This is down from two of 149 students in 2014. Morris said stable housing and a stable family contribute to keeping children in school and continuing their education. This is a sentiment that Tim Mains, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, also believes.

”We have increased our sensitivity and attention to the ways experiences outside of school can impact the children we serve. When children move often or when their quality of life at home declines, such changes also often have a negative impact for children academically,” Mains said. ”Conversely, children in safe, stable home environments are able to come to school more able to focus on the learning we provide. When CODE provides affordable, stable housing to families, it also provides the sort of safe, reliable home environment that allows its younger residents to have an improved chance for academic success.”

Patty Heiser, who lives at Appleyard Terrace, has three children Brianna, Cheyenne and Justin in 10th, ninth and eighth grades, respectively, in Jamestown Public Schools. She said her children have excelled in school since moving into a CODE operated building. She added they moved to Appleyard about 10 years ago.

”By not moving all the time, they have flourished,” she said. ”First off, they are really close to the school so there is less of a commute. Two, (CODE) works really hard to keep (Appleyard Terrace) clean and safe. Even though they have had past problems, (CODE) has really stepped up their game to have a decent living environment for us.”

Heiser said living in a CODE operated building just isn’t assisting her children in school, but also learning how to interact with others outside of the classroom.

”We’ve got some really good neighbors. We have community barbecues, which helps (the children) with social interactions. That is part of them growing up and learning how to interact socially,” Heiser said. ”We have a multiracial neighborhood and we have good people who are black, Puerto Ricans and white. What I love is we are a multiracial neighborhood and we all get along.”

Morris said CODE doesn’t provide educational services for those living in their buildings, but understands what children do after school is as important as what they do while in school.

”Therefore, we allow the YMCA to have an afterschool program in our community room. It is open to all students, not just ours. Part of it is to ensure that homework gets done,” Morris said. ”Throughout the city, parents with limited language skills struggle to assist their children with homework. This helps to level the field and makes sure the homework gets done. It also provides other after school assistance.”

John Barber, Eastside YMCA operations director and Jamestown Area YMCA teen director, said they launched a pilot program at CODE called Fuel Up in early November 2015. He said the purpose of the program is to fuel up minds and fuel up bodies. He added the program was launched as a part of YMCA officials’ desire to make sure children have healthy meals available to them and after school enrichment.

”We provide a Y staff person who brings learning enrichment/homework help and he also brings in a supper which is available to students in K-12th grade,” Barber said. ”The program has been successful in two ways that benefit CODE residents. First, the interest students have in after school learning has resulted in at least 11 new students enrolling in our full feature program at the Eastside YMCA. And secondly, we continue to serve students that aren’t enrolled at Eastside but still need homework help and supper.”

The YMCA currently offers supper at three locations in the city in conjunction with afterschool programs Eastside Y, CODE and the Teen Center, Barber said. He said Fuel Up is a simple model meant to reach students with help and nutrition that they might need after school.

”We are hoping to expand on the model in the fall and are exploring new sites. The Fuel Up location at CODE is made possible through meal reimbursements from the Child and Adult Care Food Program and grant funding from the YUSA through the Wal-Mart Foundation,” he said. ”I am glad for the ways that CODE and Jamestown YMCA are working together. Both organizations are committed to meeting the needs of city residents. CODE helps provide affordable housing to area families and we believe youth services provided through Fuel Up and the Eastside Y help to fill the need these families have for youth services after school and in the summer.”