Kaleidoscope Snow Day Program offers childcare during snow days

Emily Broyles, Reporter

When neighboring public schools are canceled because of weather, the majority of the time, App State isn’t. Professors at the Reich College of Education with children in these schools can now work and have accessible childcare available thanks to the Kaleidoscope Snow Day Program.

Branching off from the Kaleidoscope After-School Learning Program established for kids of faculty, staff and kids in the area, the new snow day program will offer hands-on activities and tutoring for K-8 students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m during snow days.

Diane Wilcox, RCOE early field experience coordinator, said the many blizzard-related snow days last December inspired the expansion of Kaleidoscope.

“We were just thinking, ‘Watauga County schools was out 11 days before Christmas,” Wilcox said. “For those days for faculty and staff in this building, I’m like ‘You know, I wonder if there’s something that we can do for our own.’”

Wilcox is a retired school teacher with children, so she said she understands the struggles educators face finding unexpected care for their child.

“I know what it’s like as a parent to feel that panic at 6 a.m. when you get the phone call that there’s no school,” Wilcox said. “I still have to work, so what am I going to do with my kids for the day?”

Wilcox said she hopes the program will increase productivity and keep classes from cancellation, as without the program, educators must bring their kids to work or must stay home.

“If there’s a way that our faculty and staff could bring their children and have them in one place supervised, productivity could continue, the workday could continue,” Wilcox said.

Tammie Gelderman, RCOE administrative support associate, said the snow day program has made her realize how hard childcare in the workplace is. She has brought her grandchildren to work most of their lives, one growing up in the Dean’s Suite, sleeping behind her desk in his car seat.

“I have joint custody of my grandsons, ages 5 and 10. It would be tremendous, especially for the 5-year-old because he’s so active,” Gelderman said. “It’s really hard to entertain them. My office is out in the middle of everywhere.”

Nickolas Jordan, associate dean of Student Affairs and Program Services, is also looking forward to the the free program, as it will benefit families in need and give opportunities to students.“This is one of those services brought to those families who can’t necessarily afford it which is fantastic,” Jordan said. “It’s going to add even more value not only to the families of the community but also for our students who work in the Kaleidoscope program.”

Wilcox sent out a survey to RCOE faculty and staff to see who would benefit from the snow program. Out of all those who responded, 16 families with a total of 24 children said they would appreciate and rely on the program.

Staff and App State students, most of them education majors, will supervise the children. Wilcox said education majors will gain field experience through the program. Although Wilcox is appreciative of the volunteers listed for the program, she hopes the snow day program will grow to the point where permanent staff is required.

The Kaleidoscope Snow Day Program will start as soon as the university attorney and the Provost approve the program.