The value of Top 20 programs are the life benefits that are being derived by the children. As a result of the program, we have seen significant improvements in the children’s behavior, emotional well-being, and academic performance while, also building social capital among families, schools, and communities. By empowering students, we are helping them to recognize and maximize their potential in life.
We are committed to serving all students in our program. Anyone needing accommodations can call, text, or email Debra Williams
with questions two weeks in advance. Her number is (219) 201-9784.
Top 20 II
For nearly a decade. our dance and mentoring program’s unique combination of dance training, mentoring, community service, and field trip delivers a set of practical life skills that lead students to make choices that will improve their health, enhance their educational accomplishments, and become engaged citizens.
Top 20 II Dance and Mentoring Program, promotes:
a healthy lifestyle, self-esteem, and teamwork through dance;
constructive life choices through mentoring;
leadership and empathy through community service; and,
cultural enrichment through field trips.
We have partnered with Carrie Gosch Early Learning Center to implement Project Connect. Project Connect provides strategies that effectively engage parents with their students’ activities.
The purpose of this project is to assist parents in supporting the academic achievement of their children. We provide the parent's strategies to fully engage with the schools, encourage the excitement of their children to discover new things, and empower them to confidently reinforce at home what their children learn. The value of the program is helping parents to ensure their students thrive, strengthening families, and increasing life benefits to the children. The program will produce significant improvements in children’s behavior, emotional well-being, and academic performance while building social capital among families, schools, and communities.
Health and Wellness Program
Social workers in the School City of East Chicago (SCEC) reported an exacerbated impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of teachers and paraprofessionals. A national study suggested that much of staff stress is related to managing their families from home while simultaneously incorporating new procedures and technology into teaching remotely. Therefore, Top 20, Inc., working with Purdue Nutrition Education Program designed a project to serve teachers and paraprofessionals in the School City of East Chicago (SCEC). Together we developed a series of workshops and presentations to help alleviate the mounting stress staff had undergone due to the impact of the pandemic and to improve their health. This initiative was funded by Franciscan Health Alliance. The activities were hosted at various schools tailored to the responses we received from the specific staff in that building based upon results of a survey we administered prior to the start of the program. However, regardless of the location of the activity, the events were open and available to teachers and paraprofessionals in the entire district via zoom. That was because the covid protocols implemented by the school district prevented staff from one school entering other school buildings. Our program wasn’t meant to change the conditions under which teachers operate, but rather to help them better manage their anxiety and stress and possibly prevent burnout by providing them: a) tips and exercises to relieve stress; b) recipes and cooking demonstrations to eat healthy; c) tours of greenhouses and places to purchase fresh food; and, d) challenges structured to encourage them to meet health wellness goals. At least one activity was provided each month which was fun, educational, and/or energetic. We offered at least one monthly activity and/or provided resources that might improve their physical, social wellbeing, and overall health following the covid-19 experience. The activities were fun, educational, and/or energetic. There were workshops on stress reduction, breast cancer awareness, and heart health. We provided the staff physical activity using yoga and aerobic movements. The teachers and paraprofessionals also attended three (3) healthy cooking classes at Ivy Tech and went on field trips to a Farmers’ Market and greenhouse. The post survey provided at the end of the program indicated the staff felt the program helped them to increase exercise and vitality, increase their consumption of fresh foods, improved their knowledge of nutrition and healthy recipes. It is hoped that these positive results also accrued benefits to the students.
Cooking with Math
Top 20, Inc. received a grant from Franciscan Health Alliance to operate a pilot project during the 2022-2023 schoolyear in East Chicago, Indiana entitled “Cooking with Math.” Top 20, Inc. is offering this program in collaboration with Purdue Extension’s Nutrition Education Program (NEP). The intent of the program is to: (1) help the students learn and understand measurement by preparing healthy recipes; (2) provide nutrition education and healthy meals to the students; (3) share nutrition information and recipes with the parents; (4) engage the students in a fun, educational activity; and, (5) benefit those students in the school system and their families that are food insecure. Two schools were selected for the project, Carrie Gosch Early Learning Center (CGELC) and McKinley Elementary School. CGELC is a public preschool serving 3 to 5 year olds in 10 classrooms (about 132 students). Sixty-five percent of the students at CGELC are Title I eligible for free lunches. For this project we are working with three second grade classrooms at McKinley consisting of about 25 students each (or 75 students). Students at McKinley are 100% eligible for free lunches. This will result in approximately 207 students being served between the two (2) schools. The teachers, using an age-appropriate curriculum, introduce the students to concepts of measurements/fractions. NEP supplements the curriculum with regular nutrition education classes with the teachers and students at both schools to teach them about food groups, nutritional values, how to read labels, and foods that should be avoided, eaten in moderation, or that are good for them. Through the grant and other resources, a crock pot was purchased for each classroom participating in the program, along with mixing bowls, measuring spoons and cups, other utensils, and a food cart on wheels. The food cart is used to store staple items such as oil, salt and pepper, and the other accessories necessary for cooking. Every month, food kits are assembled for each recipe and provided to the classrooms. Teachers, with assistance of the students, cook the recipes that are tied to events going on each month of the year. For example, in October, Spanish Heritage Month, the students made enchiladas. In November, the planned recipe is slow cooker stuffing. The process of measuring the ingredients included in the recipes using measuring cups and spoons will be a fun way for fractional parts to be reinforced and visualized by the students. While the food is cooking, the teachers read a story to the students related to the event of the month and discuss its relevance and importance. This allows the children to associate the meal to a specific activity occurring in the month and to better understand the nutritional information that they were taught. The students are able to smell and view the food as it cooks in anticipation of the finished product. Before school is dismissed, the students eat the meal family style as a group in the classroom. The students complete a brief survey at the end of each cooking session to let us know if both the meal and process was enjoyed. The recipes are sent home with the students to prepare at another time.
Uber the Literacy Program
The reason we are offering this program: Improving literacy and learning to speak publicly is important. Students have become immersed in digital media as a source of entertainment, information, and communication. Students watch more television, get their information from news feeds, and use emojis and abbreviated symbols to communicate with their friends. This has reduced the ability of children to read, write, and critically evaluate the information to which they are exposed. Critical thinking skills is crucial in helping students to achieve more than a cursory understanding of any topic and helps them form their own opinions. According to the literature, children who are avid readers will often find school more appealing, and therefore, get better grades. Developing good writing skills can help students strengthen their ability to make reasoned arguments on a variety of subjects, which is useful in school and in the jobs they will hold in the future. A National Educational Association (NEA) study found that nearly two-thirds of employers ranked reading skills as “very important” for high school graduates, and more than a third found that their applicants were deficient in their reading ability. We have found that the students in our program are not illiterate, but they are not sufficiently literate in reading and writing which is the backbone for learning any subject. Many don’t understand the meaning of common words and can’t formulate thoughts about how experiences impact them. Additionally, their writing structure is poor and their spelling is deficient. This could ultimately result in them not being able to understand and accomplish more complex information-processing task that are increasingly important as our society becomes more dependent on new technologies. How the program operates: We collaborated with a professor at Purdue Northwest Indiana who holds a PHD in Rhetoric and Composition and teaches rhetoric, writing, and English literature. We designed an intensive, hands on program that would be piloted with 40 students—20 elementary and 20 middle school students. The professor will conduct 6 biweekly sessions (every two weeks) with each grade level from September to December and another 6 biweekly sessions starting in January to May. She will rotate to each school on a specified day and time allowing at least one hour per school. The sessions will engage the students in a range of reading, writing, and thinking exercises to develop 21st century skills. The modules will be based on a book assigned for their respective grade level. The students will journal weekly based on various aspects of the book and relate the content to their own experiences and/or reflections. The journals will be turned in every Friday. The journal entries will be reviewed to assess the writing, and provide each student with written feedback on Monday. Through this process we will be able to evaluate the students’ comprehension and understanding of the content. The biweekly in person meetings will be supplemented with alternating remote sessions so that the students can ask questions and report any problems or concerns they may have such as difficulty in generating ideas, determining how to start the writing process, or other issues that might impede their writing. The remote session will also be valuable if the students need additional assistance or tutoring. At the mid-point of the program we will continue to build on what the students have learned and introduce speech opportunities and competitions to help them develop leadership through practical experience. This will gradually help them become comfortable speaking in front of people and will offer constructive feedback as to their delivery, hand gestures, eye contact, and other matters that promote or distract from their speeches. During this time period, students will give impromptu speeches that start are 1-2 minutes on topics such as “Tell us about yourself” or What did you do during your holiday break ?“. Prepared speeches will be 5-7 minutes on subjects of their choice but must meet certain criteria or objectives such as the speech must have a beginning, middle, and end, or their speech must use a prop or hand gestures. The goals/objectives of the program are: • To improve oral and written communication skills through exposing students to a range of genres including, but not limited to, storytelling, letter writing, essay writing, and digital media; • To teach students critical thinking skills through oral and written communication; • To emphasize the importance of reflection by connecting their writing to scenarios that support self-efficacy and social-emotional learning; • To help students develop cultural awareness and sensitivity through reading and responding to texts; • To use writing to support students as they learn to identify, articulate, and make meaning around issues impacting their communities (i.e., health, well-being, climate or environment, etc.); • To provide guided instruction to improve confidence in public speaking; • Help the students explore career and college opportunities; and, • To use oral presentation to communicate ideas and positions. Program evaluation: These goals and objectives will be evaluated by the professor. She will develop a rubric to evaluate the writings and communication skills. A pre, mid, and post assessment will be conducted. The pre assessment will be done within the first two weeks of the start of the program. The mid-term assessment will be conducted at the approximate halfway point of the program; and, the post assessment will be completed at least two weeks prior to the end of the program. The data collected will be analyzed to determine whether there is a positive change in the students’ overall communication skills as well as their confidence in reading, writing, and speaking.