Blastoff! Our New Afterschool has Taken Flight

Several children and a few adults look up at the sky with eclipse sunglasses

It was 3 in the afternoon, and the young members of our new Jack August After School Program were grabbing a snack of soft pretzels and fruit juice before settling down to the afternoon’s activities. They’d just been walked over from their nearby schools by our After School staff. The room filled with chatter as they sat down at small tables covered with bright red tablecloths. 

The Jack August After School opened in April. It exclusively serves children who live in the Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers—the public housing projects where the Isaacs Center is based. Program Director Eric Wyche said supporting their education is one of the goals of the program. 

“We help them with homework every day,” he explained. “I’ve gotten great feedback from the parents that some of the kids have improved in their homework. So that’s been great to feel that we’re contributing to their success in school.” 

Other activities combine learning with play. For example, the children have built bridges with popsicle sticks, using math to figure out how much strength is required to hold the bridge up. They observed the Solar Eclipse with staff and created their own solar system.  

Recently they took part in a community beautification project with resident gardener Mr. Leroy by planting flowers and adding vibrant colors and words of inspiration to the rock beds that surround the garden. 

“We also have a drama portion,” said Wyche. “We’ve had a teacher here twice a week teaching the kids different types of acting and they seem to enjoy it so much.” 

The program is named in memory of Jack August, a longtime Manhattan educator, and is generously supported by his family. 

”Jack August was an elementary school principal for several decades, serving his longest tenure at PS 108 in Spanish Harlem,” wrote August’s son-in-law Fred Bernstein in an email.  “Every morning he stood on the front steps of the school to greet students and teachers as they arrived. When, at PS 108 he became concerned that many of his young  students had had no breakfast, or an inadequate meal before coming to school in the morning, he persuaded the Board of Education to institute the City’s first free school breakfast program.” 

August, he added, was devoted to his job and loved to encounter his former students around the city.  

“He would have been delighted to hear of the afterschool program for young children being created at the Isaacs Center,” he wrote.