Grant allows DCC to offer afterschool activities and tutoring

Jamie Ausk Crisafulli
Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Laura Beth VanderVeur, a faculty member at DCC, assists a student with a STEM activity at the afterschool program. Hunter Herbaugh photo

Dawson Community College is offering an afterschool program that provides a variety of activities and tutoring for students from kindergarten to high school whether they are in school, homeschool or online classes.

The program is paid for through a $140,000 School-Age Child Care Program grant through the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, which is funded using Coronavirus Relief Funds. The college is offering the program at no charge.

According to Sara Engle, director of workforce development continuing education at DCC, the afterschool program is meant to help ease the burden on families by providing students with activities that include Elearning support, STEM programs, arts, music and more.

With the closure of the Boys and Girls Club this year and students out of the classroom more than ever before, college officials saw a need in the community that they felt they could help fill, Engle noted.

Early Childhood Education instructor Laura VanderVeur brought the grant opportunity to the attention of college officials.

“Laura had a huge impact in getting this going for us. She helped develop plans, effective programs that would be useful for the kiddos out there right now in the community,” Engle said.



The grant application was submitted in September, and DCC staff worked hard to have the program ready in the event the grant was approved. That happened at the end of October.

“We were able to hit the ground running right when we got approval,” Engle said.

College officials plan to continue the program through the month of December with the goal of making at least a portion of the program sustainable for the college next semester and beyond.

The program began Nov. 9. The tutoring portion of the program takes place from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday while Glendive Public Schools are in the hybrid learning model. With students moving to the restricted model, the hours of the program will likely see some changes.

Engle said there are quite a few kids taking advantage of the tutoring, including students in all grade levels.

“A lot of the kiddos just doing their online work because they have so many missing assignment,” Engle said. “Hopefully we will have them ready to transition to restricted so they are not coming with a pile of missing assignments to overwhelm the teachers.”

The other portion of the after school program is focused on a variety of activities, which start at 3:30 p.m. These activities are taught by members of the faculty and community members. Engle noted that once the word about the program started to get out, she had some members of the community offer their time to teach activities for students. Students can learn a variety of skills, including music, sewing, stained glass and more.

There will even be welding classes divided into two age group: middle and high school.

Some sessions are focused on STEM activities and staying active.

There is a schedule available for these sessions and pre-registration is required to ensure the safety of the participants. There are a limited number of spots available.

December classes will include self defense, fossil exploration, welding/3D printing and animal science.

Students are asked to bring their own eLearning supplies, water bottles and a mask.

With early success – the program is serving about 40 kids per week so far – Engle said it is obvious the college is filling a need in the community.

While the program funding will end Dec. 31, Engle said the goal is to be able attain items and equipment needed to be able to continue to offer low cost if not free workshops in the spring as well. The grant funding has helped pay for equipment and instructor fees, but that funding must be spent by the end of the year.

“We are doing some really neat things that we have never been able to do, (based on)affordability ... I encourage parents and guardians to sign kiddos up while we have these opportunities,” Engle said.

For more information on the program and to see a list of scheduled activities, check out the DCC website at www.

Reach Jamie Ausk Crisafulli at

“We are doing some really neat things that we have never been able to do (based on) affordability ... I encourage parents and guardians to sign kiddos up while we have these opportunities,”

Sara Engle, Director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education