W.O.K.E. After School Program at Sterling

by Terry Watson | September 13th, 2018
W.O.K.E. After School Program at Sterling

W.O.K.E. After School Program at Sterling

Chameka Duncan is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina but now calls Greenville home. She is a quiet, introverted woman of God who loves to serve. For many years, she was very comfortable with being behind the scenes and “making things happen”. However, the calling on her life has pushed her from the back to the forefront. Chameka has a passion to serve, love, an assist people in any way that she can, and unwaveringly shares her heart with children and adolescence.

From a very young age Chameka says that others identified her teacher like qualities. “Many people would tell me that one day I would be a teacher,” she says. “Being a teacher was not the career I wanted for myself, but I later learned that being in education and a counselor was certainly a part of my calling. I was always very concerned about my friends and others and how they perceived life. My goal was to simply help people. For a long time ran away from my calling and worked in other fields.” Chameka currently serves as a professional School Counselor, Behavior Intervention Specialist, and Director of the W.O.K.E (Working on Knowledge & Excellence) After School Program at Sterling School. She received her Bachelors of Art degree in Business Management from Winthrop University, Masters of Art degree in Human Resources Management from Webster University. She also obtained her Masters of Education degree in School Counseling from Liberty University. She is also certified as a licensed Professional Counselor Associate, National Certified Counselor, and a Global Career Development Facilitator, and a successful clinical therapist who specializes in individual and family therapy. She has been a K-12 school counselor for the last six years and has also worked in higher education. “My mission is to assist all children with maximizing their potential by building positive relationships, providing resources, and exposing children to new experiences,” she says.

Rakenya Lewers is a native of Greenville, SC and the Nicholtown community. She has been employed by Greenville County Schools for over seven years and has a passion for outreach and advocating for families. Besides an affinity with wood fired pizza and the arts, she loves bridging the knowledge and real-world experiences of professionals to families and children in a way that uniquely augments who they are and where they want to be. With experience in overcoming adversities such as sudden loss of loved ones, health challenges, homelessness, raising three children as a single mother, she developed a deep
appreciation for how non-profits seek to improve the quality of life for our community one program at a time.

W.O.K.E., Working on Knowledge; Excellence, is an after school program that seeks to specifically address the various academic, behavioral, and social needs of students who are enrolled in the Sterling Program at the Sterling School. Students who participate generally reside in the Nicholtown community and are not currently enrolled in the school’s existing, for-profit afterschool program. The program supports the school’s mission to provide an environment that promotes the development of the Whole Child. The Whole Child framework highlights five key elements that children need in order to become engaged, productive members of society: healthy, engaged, challenged, safe, and supported. A Whole Child approach to education develops and prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students’ comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities. A Whole Child approach sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term students success. The WOKE Afterschool Program at Sterling School directly supports this effort and our school’s collective mission.

A key component of the program is mentorship. Unlike traditional afterschool programs, the WOKE Afterschool Program at Sterling School provides students with adults who can support our students’ development of resilience and hope. Mentors also encourage students to consider careers and professions by developing relationships and life skills. The program provides students with academic enrichment and opportunities to develop life skills through various activities such as dance, music and organized sports. Our program also offers various resources and workshops to our families through community partners.
Chameka says she is most inspired by the children and families that she has the opportunities to work with. “To serve people that I come in contact with is my true calling. I am motivated to pull the best out of people, and to assist people with understanding that they can do anything that they set their minds to. My greatest inspirations are to see a diverse group of people come together and support each other. I am big on diversity, multiculturalism, and forming positive and supportive relationships,” she says. Ra’kenya finds inspiration in her own children. “Their resilience is inspiring and the fact that they know my imperfections and still see greatness and believe in me completely encourages me to want to be better,” she said.

This dynamic duo is able to provide a safe place for children while meeting a need so they will have a greater sense of confidence in themselves. They are able to watch children grow and be more social and experience undesired behavior changes. With the assistance of positive and supportive mentors they are able to develop the whole child.

W.O.K.E. has had it share of challenges. They are a program that operates fully on donations and grants, therefore the availability of funds is very critical. “Although we had a successful four months with our pilot program, the two days per week doesn’t provide an adequate amount of time to build in the academic and enrichment activities that we feel is needed for our students,” they said. Another challenge is the stigma that comes with children who need extra social and emotional help.

In the future there are plans to continue to secure additional funding so W.O.K.E. will be able to operate to its fullest potential. They want to be able to continue to provide their students with the best opportunities and increase learning by providing more enrichment activities, tutoring, and have a dedicated mentor for every child. Another focus for WOKE is bridging the gap between schools and communities. There are plans to increase the number of days of operation from two to four days per week and partner with more community leaders and organizations for positive relationships.

Contact them today to learn more about the programs currently available, or to become involved.

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