Educator from Cumberland honored for work at WHS

Educator from Cumberland honored for work at WHS

WOONSOCKET – Kris Wright, site coordinator for the Connecting for Children and Families after-school program at Woonsocket High School, was recently named an after-school director of the year by the Rhode Island Afterschool Network.

Wright, who lives in Cumberland, has served as coordinator of the after-school program since 2011. Working with a team of three others, she oversees several after-school clubs and activities offered by CCF in partnership with Woonsocket High School. These include everything from a school newspaper, to a video game design club, to science clubs and a creative writing class.

“I think people would be shocked to know how much there is here in the school,” she said.

While the program draws many of its instructors from the ranks of WHS teachers, the clubs are independent from those administered directly by the high school. Instead, they draw their funding from federal 21st-century learning grants overseen by CCF. This means Wright’s programs are not subject to potential budget cuts during the school budget process, nor do they depend on volunteers that could be affected by situations such as last year’s work-to-rule protest.

“We’ve been really lucky to have really supportive administration here, and the faculty and staff have been awesome,” she said.

Through the 21st-century learning grants, CCF is also able to offer some additional funding to established school programs such as music department activities, she added.

For high school students, having access to dependable after-school programs is an important part of their education, said Wright. The CCF program serves between 100 and 150 students every day. Teenagers can sign up for individual clubs and programs or drop in to the library for after-school help three days per week. As part of the grant requirements, said Wright, the programs are designed to teach skills students can use later in life.

“Even the fun things, they’re always things that utilize skills they will be able to use beyond high school,” she said.

Wright is no stranger to after-school programs. Growing up in Cumberland, she said, she came from a family of educators that includes her dad and all of her siblings. With degrees in media studies and education from Fordham and Columbia Universities, she worked for after-school programs in New York before returning to the area nine years ago.

Wright was one of five individuals honored during the Lights On Afterschool Summit at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in late October. As part of the award, she received a $1,000 mini-grant to support supplies and stipends for the CCF program.