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What are Community Programs?

Written by Brandice Kirchner
    Friday, 30 December 2016
What are Community Programs?

I am a relatively new Community Programs Educator at Washington Park. We do much more than I ever expected!

What do I do? Here are some examples.

Roughly a month ago we taught the principle of cause and effect to a group of five year olds from Fernwood Montessori School in Bay View. As they came into the building for their second visit three weeks later, many of them kept saying, “I remember you! We played tug of war and you lost!”

My co-teacher and I had a lesson plan and prepared and strategized ahead of time. We had several different activities, but fate stepped in with one more. We were talking about solids, liquids and gasses when, almost on cue, one of the students burped. They then got to learn the process of how our bodies break down food and how some of the gasses need to escape. Needless to say, there were lots of kiddos making interesting sounds with their mouths after that.

Later in the day, I worked with our after-school program called the Young Scientists Club. The Club is open to anyone. As a drop in program, participants are welcome to come (or not) as they choose. The age range is from 5 years old to 12 years old, so it takes some creativity to come up with activities that will engage children of such a broad age range. Not only is there a different dynamic with interpersonal relations but also the content of what we are doing.

We keep in mind that these children were just in school all day, so our main objective is for them to have fun. We plan field trips every weekend, cook together on Fridays and go visit our neighborhood library. Some days we just run around the park. There is nothing rigid about our schedule.

Even though we prepare monthly calendars, we leave a lot of the activities up to the Club members. We see some children almost all five days every week, which is incredibly encouraging. If they choose to come, they must really enjoy their time here.

I love that my job at the UEC is so versatile. I not only get experience as an educator with local schools, but I organize events and build relationships with people in the neighborhood who visit the Washington Park branch. There is never monotony in my job, which makes me excited to come to work and experience what the day has in store for me.

Photo Credit: Davita Flowers-Shanklin
Brandice Kirchner

Brandice Kirchner

Brandice Kirchner is a Community Programs Educator at Washington Park. She received a bachelor’s of Science from UWM in Conservation and Environmental Science, and is currently studying Sustainable Management in a graduate program through UW. During a long stint in the service, Brandice had the opportunity to work at some of Milwaukee’s best and innovative restaurants. This increased her love for cooking and baking -- a passion that she not only does on a regular basis with the Young Scientist Club but also at home. She loves spending time outdoors with her husband and daughter, doing anything from camping, biking, sledding, fishing and going on long walks through Milwaukee’s plethora of wonderful parks.

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