Goodman Community Center’s Student Engagement

By Sierra Gillespiee NBC15 Anchor | Photographed by Valerie Tobias

For most kids, the summer months usually mean vacation. But for some students, school is still in session at Goodman Community Center.

“We’re really busy in the summer when school is out; that’s our busiest time of year,” says Becky Steinhoff, executive director at Goodman.

The center offers a variety of programs for students of all ages, with activity- based learning to grab their attention and keep it. Plus, Goodman has fitness classes, classes on healthy eating and breastfeeding support groups, to name a few. This summer, more than 700 students have used Goodman.

One of Goodman’s newest offerings during the school year is the Transition Academy, a micro-school where Madison East High students can get more engagement—and have a better chance to succeed—than they do in a traditional high school setting.

“They do a lot of reading and writing, but we try to do everything in a fun, project-based, hands-on learning environment, so it doesn’t feel anything like school,” Steinhoff says. “Plus developing new relationships, having positive experiences; all things that are really important for young people, particularly low-income people who don’t have re- sources within their families.”

For students Naomi Knowles and Patrice Brown, Goodman does exactly that. Just a few months ago, both were students at East High, struggling to find their way.

“[At] East you only have one teacher in a classroom with 30 kids,” Knowles says. “It doesn’t work like that. Everybody doesn’t get the help they need.”

Both girls say they would not have been able to complete high school, had they stayed at such a large public school.

They attend the Transition Academy, but also make up school credits and use the Goodman Community Center the rest of the year. This season, they’ve traveled to Devil’s Lake, visited a strawberry patch, worked in the Goodman garden and honed their culinary skills.

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