Amie Rogers, local artist and Augustana College graduate, has been serving as an AmeriCorps service member with the Stepping Stones program since August. She provides art enrichment to Stepping Stones youth, teaching students about design elements and art principles, while exploring different materials, media, and techniques. Shaney Ford, Stepping Stones Manager, says, “Art experiences have always been an important part of Out of School Time Programs. They give youth an opportunity to learn skills, practice techniques, experiment, and talk about their work, in a safe environment with caring adults. We do things in Stepping Stones that most of us never got to do at home, because we didn’t have the right materials – or it just made too much of a mess!” Jennifer Best, Stepping Stones evaluator says, “Research shows that participation in art gives youth an opportunity to express feelings, nurture self-efficacy, and encourage engagement with the community. It has also been linked to greater academic success.” Stepping Stones thanks Amie Rogers in her service to Stepping Stones during the 2014-2015 school year!
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Stepping Stones staff have extensive training. All staff receive a standardized orientation, complete with training videos upon employment. At the beginning of each school year, staff engage in 20 hours of professional development, and during the school year, staff participate in an additional 12 hours of professional development. Prior to the summer session, staff receive 20 hours of training. In addition, all staff members are required to be certified Iowa Child Abuse Mandatory Reporter. Working together is a key part of a successful Out of School Time Program. At our most recent training, Stepping Stones staff completed a group exercise to practice these skills.