Davis School District and one of its employees was recognized for something outstanding it does among educators in the state.

After-school programs.

For the past 18 years, Courtney Ward, the director of after-school programs for Davis School District, has worked to help students continue to learn afterschool hours. Ward was named Utah Afterschool Network’s Utah Afterschool Program Director of the Year for 2019.

Ward is largely behind the 17 programs at elementary schools throughout Davis District, as well as one at North Davis Junior High, totaling approximately 1,200 kids.

In case you’re not well acquainted with after-school programs, they are definitely not stand-in babysitters. The programs include a number of planned STEM activities, active time, learning and time for homework for the children who participate.

The programs are an extension of the school day; something the after-school directors work to ensure, of as they collaborate and communicate with the students’ teachers and aim for increasing their academic performance.

The success of Utah’s students is such a group effort among educators, administrators, families and neighbors. It is unfortunate that after-school programs’ funding is often in question despite the clear need and good being done. In Davis, a key funding source is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which is a federal grant and has been part of proposed budget cuts since 2017. Every year, President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating funding for these programs across the country.

We desperately hope the services continue to be available to our children, who benefit academically and developmentally from the plans carried out by directors like Ward. Education is a key priority and ongoing funding issue in Utah, and we must remember the benefits and people behind these efforts to strengthen students, and the loss it would be should that funding evaporate.

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