Skip to main content


Elementary Students Gain Enrichment Through NMUSD’s Expanded Learning Programs
Posted 3/16/23

secnes of kids in expanded learning programs
As parents everywhere know, there’s never enough time in a day to do everything they want to do. The same is often true for our children. Across Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD), students have the opportunity to enrich and advance their elementary school experiences, thanks to NMUSD’s Expanded Learning programs.

Parents of students at Adams, College Park, Killybrooke, Paularino, Pomona, Rea, Victoria, Whittier and Wilson Elementary Schools can enroll their children in one or two no-cost programs that meet beyond the school bell: a new enrichment program that runs three days a week and Project Kidz Connect, which runs five days a week.

“Both of our after-school programs allow our students to build on the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a safe environment,” said Expanded Learning Coordinator Laurie Virtusio.

Enrichment Program

Approximately 600 students have participated in the after-school enrichment classes this year. The program offered to elementary students utilizes some of the same community partners from the summer 2022 program. For each nine-week session, students are given the choice between three concentrations: Science, Technology Engineering, and Math (STEM); dance and performing arts; or sports. 

BrainStorm STEM Education and Discovery Cube Orange County work with NMUSD to provide hands-on, engaging, standards-based learning activities, while Beyond Athletics Orange County and Pure Game lead students through a variety of sports and United Studios of Self Defence teaches the basics of karate. “Students in younger grades not only strengthen their coordination and gross motor skills, but they also learn sportsmanship. For older students, it’s a way to introduce them to sports they could play in secondary school, such as basketball and volleyball,” Virtusio said.

Students who participate in an arts focus are guided by the Arts & Learning Conservatory through the mechanics of a children’s play, and Active Learning leads students in a dance performance.  

Parents are encouraged to check with their schools about availability in the next session.

Project Kidz Connect

More than 900 students gather daily at their school sites for the engaging activities offered as part of the after-school Project Kidz Connect program.  

Students are separated into small groups and follow a schedule that incorporates peer-community building, homework assistance, active games, and learning activities that also build on what was learned in the classroom. These enrichment activities are in partnership with YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, and Strategic Kids

Every school day, students gather in a community circle activity to check in with one another and answer a fun question such as “If you had a super-power, what would it be?” This activity encourages active listening and engages students’ creativity, while also building relationships among one another and the staff. Afterward, students often get started on their homework and work with instructional assistants, who provide assistance and review homework assignments. 

Students are challenged with daily STEM and arts opportunities to further stimulate their creativity. Younger students might practice sorting and strengthen fine-motor skills by creating beaded jewelry, while older students might learn about physics through the building of miniature catapults. 

Parents interested in enrolling their children in Project Kidz Connect should check availability with their school. Students are enrolled on a monthly basis based on availability.

These fun, educational programs are offered in partnership with community organizations that provide additional staff, which allows NMUSD to increase student participation. Students may be enrolled in both programs simultaneously.  

“The goal of NMUSD’s enrichment opportunities is to foster our students’ interests. We’re exposing them to new things in a fun atmosphere,” Virtusio said. 

Funding for this program is made possible through the State’s Expanded Learning Opportunity Program (ELOP), which targets specific student populations. However, the district is always looking for ways to expand student programs and hopes to add expanded learning programs to additional elementary schools in the 2023-24 school year.

For more information about NMUSD’s Expanded Learning programs, visit our website.