For most people the name Indy Parks conjures images of sunny days spent outside on swings, slides or a hiking trail, but for students and families at Indianapolis Public Schools Daniel Webster School 46, Indy Parks represents a valuable layer of school support.

James Simmons is the School Outreach Site Coordinator for Indy Parks at Daniel Webster. His after-school program there works with about 45 students (kindergarten through 8th grade) from 3:30-6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A large component of that after-school program involves supporting students to succeed in school. In the fall using grant funds from different sources, Simmons hires a certified tutor (often a current or retired Daniel Webster teacher) to work with students on their homework or other lessons that reinforce what they are currently doing in their classrooms.

In the spring, after the grant for the tutor has finished, Simmons and his staff of four continue the tutoring work, checking in and helping students with homework, giving them additional worksheets to build core skills and scheduling activities that continue the lessons they learn during the day.

Student Prestija W. said the tutoring “helps a lot. Not only do I get to finish homework before I get home, but I also can get extra help if I’m having trouble or have questions.”

Simmons notes that everything they do in the after-school program is directly tied to the skills the students are working on in school. Daniel Webster Principal Karen Linn said that there is “great communication between Indy Parks and our classrooms.”

Linn is pleased Indy Parks helps students complete their homework. “Making sure homework is done is job number one,” she said. “That saves parents work when they pick up their students and adds another layer to helping students keep up.”

Simmons is happy to help in that way. “We try to bring in kids that need the extra help, kids that struggle. We can help. We can do lessons in a different way and fit students’ interests.”

  • Linn has allowed Simmons to use the computer lab to draw in older students. Recently, they researched the music they liked online and compared it to older music.
  • A literacy assignment had younger students read a Peter Rabbit story and complete a craft project related to the story. Then students were allowed to keep the donated books.
  • Simmons and his staff hold math races where students race on a chalkboard to see who can complete the problems first.
  • Simmons himself has a STEM interest, so he designs experiments for the students to do together.

Through the Indiana Department of Education, Indy Parks is even able to offer students a meal—sandwiches, fruit and milk or juice. “The kids love it, and I’m sure it gives them an extra boost,” said Sally Allen, Social Worker at Daniel Webster.

Everything about the program is designed to bring students in and support them physically, socially and academically so they are ready for the next school day.

Similar Indy Parks programs exist at James A. Garfield School 31, William Penn School 49, Christian Park School 82 and Wendell Phillips School 63. IPS is proud to have a partnership with Indy Parks that prepares and empowers our students to succeed every day!