HAWLEY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Hawley Independent School District received $1.2 million in Texas COVID Learning Acceleration Support grants, or TCLAS grants, which is anticipated to fund a new afterschool program and more.

The hallways were full again in Hawley schools as students returned from their Christmas break, and big news was on its way.

Superintendent Cassidy McBrayer and Elementary Principal Jacob Cox said the school district would be creating an afterschool program for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

Although, that is just one program made possible by the $1.2 million Hawley received from TCLAS grants, which are in place to help students “catch up” with their curriculum after two COVID-plagued years.

“That [grant] also includes some reading and math coaches for the campus, a lot of materials, college prep materials for the high school and teacher training,” Cox listed.

These programs will not only help alleviate the stresses for parents who work 9-5 jobs, allowing them to know their children are being cared for and learning while they are still working.

Cox said parents and students can expect a lot from these afterschool programs, with ideas of STEM-related enrichment activities, art and music tutorials and even cooking classes were being thrown around.

The principal also said the goal for adding a program like this for the younger students is to help them find their passions and interests at an early age, while helping them catch up in their curriculum.

“There are some issues that are going to be long-term from COVID, and this is hopefully going to help us address some of those and close some of those gaps,” Cox explained.

Third grade math teacher, Kaylee Jones, said she has seen how the pandemic has affected students first hand, in the classroom and at home.

On top of teaching, Jones has two younger brothers in the fifth and third grades, attending Hawley Elementary, and said at-home learning was a challenge for them.

“When we shut down for COVID, I was the one at home with my younger brothers doing their home school is what we called it, and it was rough,” Jones said.

She watched as frustration began to sink in during the pandemic, and even when they returned to the classroom.

“When I would try to explain it, they would say ‘that’s not what my teacher does, or that’s not how my teacher does it.’ That’s definitely hard,” Jones sympathized.

Jones also said for subjects like math, a very foundational subject, it’s difficult to catch up if you get behind. She said that when COVID-19 hit, her brother missed the last part of his third grade year and didn’t get to learn multiplication fully, which is still a challenge for him.

From a teacher’s perspective, though, Jones said she sees how important providing programs like these are for all grade levels.

“This gives an opportunity for them to get caught up in a smaller group situation, which may be more beneficial than just the classroom instruction,” Jones said. “Where we only have 120 minutes to get everything in and not enough time to focus one-on-one with each kid.” 

Jones also said when she grew up in Hawley, they did not have a lot of college preparation material. She said that she is very excited for the high school students to learn some life-skills; like balancing a check book, and other fundamentals before heading off to college.

Cox said while getting students up to speed with their education is their main goal, they also want parents to be at ease while they are at work.

“We want to provide a way for parents who are still struggling, maybe having to work more hours… A way for them to know their kids are safe, they’re taken care of. But they’re not just watching an iPad either, they are getting something useful out of the time,” Cox explained.

Hawley Superintendent Cassidy McBrayer said the school will be finalizing details over the next few months, hiring a program coordinator and new tutors. She said the program will be ready for the Fall 2022 semester, with afterschool programs running from their 3:45 dismissal until 6:45, Monday through Friday.