After School Program at Casa Romero
The Casa Romero After-School Program at Holy Cross in Chicago has provided academic and social support for K-12 students for more than 20 years. The dedicated-use facility and long-term, committed staff provide academic support at each grade level.
A mainstay of the program is the belief that noticing and rewarding the positive things kids do, rather than emphasizing corrective action, brings out the best in them. Kids get attention for being a member of and contributing to the community. This practice is one of the keys to the immensely successful impact that Holy Cross’s youth programs have on the neighborhood’s young people.
There are several students in the program who joined when they entered elementary school and are now successfully finishing high school. Many of the program’s graduates are college students who now work within the parish to give back to the community that helped them.
This program uses a small group model where 10 to 12 students of a given grade level work daily with the same trained, college-student leader in a dedicated classroom in Holy Cross’s Casa Romero building. All groups spend approximately 2 of their 3 program hours each day on academics. Students are required to finish their homework before the group moves onto supplemental learning activities like writing, journaling, math exercises, reading groups, and computer time.
In addition to this academic time, students participate in an hour of life-skills instruction related to social skills and/or nutrition per week. The remaining program time is spent playing sports and board games and creating craft projects. The safety of Casa Romero lets kids play and spend time together without fear.
Besides offering crucial services to young students, the After-School Program also provides its young group leaders with invaluable personal and professional experience. This experience prepares them for a host of social service and education careers and helps them grow into valued community leaders.
From a parent’s perspective, Casa Romero and the After-School Program are a source of safety and consistent academic assistance. From the students’ perspective, the program provides a welcoming and reliable place for learning, socializing, and fun.