Lufkin ISD Superintendent Lynn Torres

After-school time is an important time of the day. How that time is spent can be instrumental in a child’s educational, physical and emotional growth.

We are fortunate as a district to be the recipient of the 21st Century-Texas ACE so we can offer a program after school that is both fun and educational. Starting the program in September, our students are reporting back that it’s their favorite part of the day.

It wouldn’t be that way if we didn’t live in Lufkin, where community members and local businesses have stepped up to add enriching activities to this important part of a student’s day.

What is the 21st Century-Texas ACE program?

Lufkin ISD received a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant in the amount of $7.5 million to be used over five years. In Texas, the 21st CCLC program is called the Texas Afterschool Centers on Education program, or 21st Century-Texas ACE. These programs aim to improve student attendance, behavior and academics while providing safe supplemental learning space for students.

The program does not cost a dime to our parents, but they are encouraged to get involved in parent enrichment programs offered free of charge, as well. These expanded learning opportunities for children and their families offer innovative hands-on activities that reinforce and complement students’ regular academic programs.

The grant covers expenses for activities for five primary and five elementary campuses including staffing, supplies and field trips. Transportation is provided for free. The staffing alone involves 120 employees, which includes teachers, paraprofessionals and outside contracted staff through our community partners. The academic portion will be taught and prepared by Lufkin ISD teachers.

What are community partners providing?

The city of Lufkin Parks & Recreation department will provide fun activities and the Legacy Institute Generation A program will have supplemental lessons. Some of the community activities will expand learning through sports, Zumba, karate, dance, cooking, art, STEM and much more.

Other entities involved are:

■ The Family Crisis Center of East Texas

■ ADAC (Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas)

■ The Coalition — Drug-Free All-Stars

■ The Museum of East Texas

■ Circle Club

■ Book Buddies of East Texas

■ Angelina College

■ Junior Achievement

■ Kurth Memorial Library

It’s incredible to see kindergartners learning how to play chess. Students benefit by building relationships with caring adults and other students while learning new skills and having fun.

How do I get involved?

We don’t believe this is just a school grant, but a community grant where we can all come together to fill this important time of day for students with meaningful activities. If you or your business has a skill you would like to teach students, email Mary Gail McCarty, Lufkin ISD Project Director for 21st Century-Texas ACE program at

We are currently hiring tutors and college students to help with the program. Tutors need a college degree and can make $24 an hour and college students need a high school diploma and can make $12 an hour. These positions are posted on our website at Let’s all get behind this afterschool program and support these students with our time and talent because “Together We Rise!”