Fortress After School is one of our longest-running programs, getting its start as Fortress Literacy Center in 2005. Since its inaugural year serving 12 students, it has grown to an enrollment of 85 kids in PreK3-5th grade. Our students come from Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary, conveniently located just two blocks from Fortress.
Students begin their afternoon by walking with their Fortress teacher from Van Zandt-Guinn to our facility, where they are greeted with a healthy after school snack. They engage in group time, where they can talk with friends, decompress from a long day at school, and practice self-regulation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and emotional vocabulary.
Students then enjoy homework help and tutoring. Once homework is completed, students receive supporting instruction in our reading and math labs (featuring iStation software), and with activities coordinated with the school and state curriculum guidelines. This hands-on learning supplements the material they are studying in school and brings math, art, reading, writing and science to life in new and exciting ways.
Supporting our faith-based foundation are weekly Bible lessons and nightly worship. Students in PreK-2nd grade participate in Sunday School-style lessons that introduce them to the stories and messages in the Bible, while 3rd-5th grade students dive deeper, making those stories and their messages practical and applicable through object lessons, service projects, and leadership challenges.
Plenty of time is allotted each week for outdoor play, games, and special interest clubs. Students are encouraged to build strong relationships with one another, and with staff and volunteers. They are also given opportunities to explore new talents and skills that may open doors for them in the future.
Additionally, Fortress After School provides dinner each evening through its partnership with Purple Hearts, a USDA food program. Special events, such as field trips, reward store, and mentoring, also make the program an enriching, fun experience for students.
Like all of Fortress’s programs, After School is offered free-of-charge to families who live in our neighborhood and attend Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary School. In lieu of tuition, parents and guardians complete 12 hours of parent engagement and participate in two annual conferences to remain eligible for re-enrollment.