Franklin starting enrichment classes

Students will be able to sculpt like a clay animation artist, learn how to play the violin or speak Spanish at a younger age through new after-school enrichment classes coming to Franklin.

Elementary- and intermediate-aged students will get a chance to learn skills in five areas that aren’t offered as classes during the school day, said Franklin director of enrichment and director of operations Bill Doty.

A pilot course in sculpting started this month at two elementary schools, and more classes will start in January. The possibilities include an orchestra course or foreign language class. Other school districts in Johnson County have not offered enrichment classes, but do offer academic clubs such as robotics or foreign language clubs.

The after-school programming will allow students to learn about subjects that aren’t included in the current curriculum or expand on a certain hobby or activity, Doty said. Arts and crafts, music or performing arts, foreign language, physical fitness and science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM classes, are the five subject areas that the enrichment classes will cover, Doty said.

No taxpayer dollars are being used. Twenty percent of the enrollment fees that students pay will cover the school district’s expenses, such as paying for extra janitorial staff. The remaining 80 percent will go to the instructor, who will have to cover expenses such as art supplies and instrument rental.

The program is loosely modeled after Zionsville schools’ enrichment program, since theirs has been established for years and has grown to offer dozens of classes, Doty said. Their classes range from cultural anthropology to chess to engineering to computer typing.

“It’s really allowing teachers to offer courses, they can make a little extra money, and the students can come and experience things that they wouldn’t necessarily get to experience during their normal school day,” Doty said.

One class scheduled for January is a string orchestra class, where students in grades 3 and 4 can learn viola or violin. Currently, orchestra is not offered in the curriculum at the middle school or high school. Depending on the interest in the class, students could possibly add orchestra back into the curriculum once they head to high school, Doty said.

Doty has also reached out to local education-based organizations such as Sylvan to see if tutoring or classes could be set aside for specific, tricky subjects for students, he said.

Last year, the school district sent a survey to students, parents and teachers to see what they’d like to experience, learn or teach. Out of that survey, Doty has been able to track down experts such as a Franklin College music professor to teach string orchestra or a sculpting program director that already teaches after-school classes statewide.

The classes will last anywhere from four to nine weeks, and students will be able to see the full class listing and register starting next month, Doty said. Fees for each class, such as rental of instruments or paying for art materials, will be included with registration, Doty said.

Fees for the classes have not been determined yet, he said. The fees will cover the cost of the entire length of the class, so parents will pay once for all materials needed, Doty said.

Franklin teachers or an expert in a specific field will lead the classes, Doty said. For example, this fall’s sculpting pilot course is being run by an after-school arts program in Indianapolis, Doty said.

The sculpting classes started at Creekside and Union Elementary two weeks ago.

“If we get good enrollment, and then we can expand it to the other elementaries for second semester,” Doty said.