Business Profile: Diana Swayze of 21st Century Community Learning Center

| April 19, 2016
Diane Swayze

Diane Swayze

By Jeanie Summerville

Diana Swayze has her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health Teaching.  And, she’s the director of 21st Century Community Learning Center Program with the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne that’s located at 2609 Fairfield Ave.  This is a federally funded program managed by the Indiana Department of Education that allows children to receive additional help with academic skills.  The program has also allowed the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focused educational activities, field trips and career awareness.  Children participating in this program have shown increases in reading, math, language skills and in their confidence levels.  

1.)  What was your motivation for securing this position?

Mr. [Executive Director Joe] Jordan and I worked together for 14 years in the past at another center, so we knew we worked well together and I always had a love for kids and had an interaction with them but at that time, my focus was on adults.  But with this position, I needed to make sure I was going to have what it takes to be able to keep up with kids because that’s high energy.  However, I knew I could do it because I knew, they would parents there and the most important teacher for our kids are those parents and if you can impact both the parents and the kids it’s a win, win situation.        

I was also motivated because I truly understand these kids. When I was in school, I wasn’t academically an A or B student. I struggled because I was in speech from first to fifth grade.  So, I tell my families and the kids here, I wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the pencil box but I wasn’t the broken pencil either—just like them. They don’t have to make all “A”s and “B”s to make something of themselves and to have passion for something, they just have to believe and I plant that seed in our kids and in our parents.  

2.)  Does having passion play a major role in your position?

Yes.  Anytime you work for a not-for-profit, you have to be passionate and make a difference in people’s lives and I think anyone can make a difference.  We just have to give them the knowledge, the power and the self worth to believe in themselves to make that difference and passion is part of that, and I’m blessed with that passion.

3.)  Describe what the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program does?

We’re in our third year of service and we work with three elementary schools in Fort Wayne and they’re Fairfield, Harrison Hill and Abbott.  We’re here for them Monday through Friday after school and we have 90 kids that we recruited from those schools at this site.  These schools has been recognized as low- income and higher risk of academic success  We use the funding for academic enrichment and we have Specialty Tutoring as one of our partners and they have two tutors on site four nights a week for two hours.  We work very closely with Specialty Tutoring and they have a curriculum and use assessments to show whether the kids are showing gains and we also use that to determine what assistance they need and if they’re working at grade level.  We receive report cards and any kind of assessment tools that the schools use when it comes to the child’s education—we stay in contact with the teachers.  

4.)  How are the children responding to this program?

The children are already members here and they see this as a program within the Boys and Girls Club and they really grasp onto it.  And, they know they have special programs here such as Science Central and Specialty Tutoring and they know these programs help them be able to accomplish different academic needs.  Science Central is one of our best attended programs because they make science fun and the kids interest in science has really gone up.   

5.)  Are the parents involved and thrilled with this program?

Yes, many of our parents have come up to me especially with the specialty tutoring and said, over the years that their child have been in the program, they’ve seen their self esteem grow and increase because of someone believing in them and giving them that one on one attention and we have two great tutors that does that and they reinforce every positive thing these kids do.  The parents are also saying they see their children walk a little prouder because they’re growing academically and one mom really feels like we’re an extension of her and we like that.

6.) What is unique about this program with the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne?

We take on the challenges of the kids who need us the most and not every after school program take on those type of challenges.  We don’t say no to anyone, everyone is welcome here and I think it starts with leadership from Mr. Jordan and the Board of Directors because we truly making a difference.  We believe in what you’re doing and to believe in what you’re doing, you got to have the heart for people and we do.  We don’t claim to know everything about academics because we’ve got our public school systems and charter schools and, they’re our primary educators but we do enough to be able to lend a hand to these kids with their academics.

7.)  How is 21st Century Community Learning Center Program making an impact in our community?

We has impacted the Fairfield site at Boys and Girls Club academically and we’re more sound, as far as, focus area, careers, colleges and we have some policies in place to enhance that.  We’re making an impact and we’re going to continue to make an impact, as long as, our community is there to support us.  Because our kids are special to us and we’ve got the most intelligent kids of any child in this Country the only difference is, we’re trying to help the parents expose them to dream as big as they want to dream and keep reaching for those stars.  Because everything’s possible and sometimes, parents need help, to help their child believe in themselves and if we can do that here at the Boys and Girls Club, we’re going to do it!  And, I truly believe that with this union, we’re a wrap around service and we wrap the family around.  We try to help the whole family not just the kids, not just the parents, not just their academics, not just their healthy lifestyles but the whole family being able to realize that they’re important and they’re part of our community.  Also, Mr. Jordan would like to add, our partners are very important to us as well and we appreciate them and those that contribute to the work we do.

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Category: Business, Community, People

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