Grant allows LACAL to spread service learning across the state

Loving his job is nothing new for Andrew Ganucheau. Neither is combining his work with service to the state of Louisiana.

Ganucheau, a Metairie native who serves as director of the Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning in the SciTEC division of the Louisiana Tech’s College of Education, said he recognized the demand for service learning in the greater New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina – and now, thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Dorsett Brown Foundation and trainings and curriculum provided by the National Youth Leadership Council, he will be able to create a project that serves that area.

“The project involves five afterschool programs in the NOLA area implementing a service learning curriculum and an event,” Ganucheau said.  “In an attempt to carry the work from the afterschool program into the school day, each program is required to recruit two to four teachers from their school partner. These teachers will attend and work with their afterschool program to connect the service learning aspects in some way to their classroom work.”

Ganucheau said the project funding supports the meeting time between teachers and afterschool programs as well as the supplies for the service learning events. An overarching goal of the project is to not only instill service learning into these afterschool programs but also to connect it with the school day.

“After receiving my master’s degree in human development counseling from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, I am became a school counselor but quickly realized that some of urgent hours for my students occurred after school,” Ganucheau said. “If my boys didn’t make their school basketball team, within weeks they would find another team — the Vice Lords or the Black Disciples, the biggest gangs in the south of Peoria.”

Because of the great need, afterschool programs are becoming a significant part of the American education system.

“A recent study by Gallup indicated the average work week is no longer 40 hours, but 47 for hourly employees and over 50 for salaried, with the majority of hourly employees working second jobs,” he said. “These hours put a tremendous strain on the American household, thus fostering a huge demand for quality afterschool programs throughout the nation.”

Ganucheau said he believes afterschool programs will soon become an extension of the nation’s education structure.

“In Louisiana, currently there are two kids on a waiting list for every person enrolled in an afterschool program,” he said. “I hope someday that we will eliminate all waiting lists so that extended learning occurs beyond the final bell for all of Louisiana youth, regardless of the region or socioeconomic status. That is the big picture that inspires my work.”

COE Dean Don Schillinger said this was a beneficial opportunity for Ganucheau as well as the state’s children.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to provide a work home for Andrew (Ganucheau) and support the important endeavors he is leading through LACAL to positively impact the lives of children in Louisiana,” Schillinger said.

LACAL leadership, including Patricia Johnson of Monroe City Schools, is also pleased by the funding that will allow LACAL to continue serving students statewide.

“The foundation has afforded afterschool programs opportunities to seek and improve learning and enrichment opportunities for disadvantage children and foster the vitality for including the arts for everyone,” Johnson said.