The school day doesn’t end at dismissal! Along with Upper School athletics, there is a wide array of after school programming for students.
A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
~ by Shel Silverstein, A Tree House
Lower School students have the opportunity to join Tree House, Upper School students can join Study Tree and all students have options available to take drop-in enrichment classes such as cooking, chess, speech and debate, dance, music lessons, and more through the After School Enrichment Program
Tree House is guided by an enduring philosophy of free play, exploration, and child-driven activities, built around a structure that encompasses Social-Emotional Learning, life skills, and learning how to be good citizens. At the heart of the program is also the belief that students benefit when they play and learn with multiple age levels. Developing skills across a spectrum of ages and abilities, younger students may try new skills earlier while older students gain a sense of responsibility and empathy as student leaders. Tree House staff members believe students are drawn to the program for the free play, special time with friends and teachers, the safe and welcoming environment, a space for social emotional learning through play, and of course, their favorite enrichment classes.
The Tree Team has decades of combined experience supporting youth, with the full team including Director of After School & Summer Programs Cyndera Quackenbush “Ms. Q”, Associate Director of After School Programs Jewel Devora, “Ms. J”, Lead Study Tree Supervisor Sierra Prior “Ms. Sierra”, After Care Program Assistant Amanda “Panda” Deda, and After School Teacher Marnie Schneider “Ms. Marnie”.
As Burke’s alumna, Ms. J. has fond memories of her own Tree House teachers, who at the time, also taught the After School Enrichment Programs (ASEP). Ms. J. actually learned film-making from one of her Treehouse and ASEP teachers. Today she works to provide a safe and welcoming space for every student, “We work with a lot of kids, people coming and going, and the important piece is still finding a path to meaningful creativity, care, and community.”
Panda was drawn to childcare and after school programs when she started co-teaching youth in Capoeira. She enjoys her work at Burkes as it has allowed her to explore teaching other extra curricular activities like art and games. “I love the flexibility and free flow of after school where we as a group can decide what activities to do and what to play, based on how we are feeling.”
Ms. Sierra leads Study Tree, the Upper School after-school drop-in program for Grades 5-8 located outdoors under the beautiful Monterey Cypress Tree in the Upper School Courtyard, the school provides supervised care allowing for the completion of homework, outdoor play, and optional activities. “Students get to come, get their homework done, and enjoy a little bit of a throwback to their time in Tree house. Upper School students still love to do crafts. We make slime, do board games and coloring sheets. The students also enjoy beading.”
Ms. Marnie joined the Tree House team this fall with a lengthy background in Early Childhood Education. She enjoyed working with Transitional Kindergarten students, some of whom ended up attending Burke’s. She splits her time between Study Tree and Tree House. “I enjoy learning about the different age groups, and doing arts and crafts together.” Recently, they completed self-portraits from recycled materials, as well as a Frieda Kahlo art piece, and the students got to make tissue-paper flowers for her hair.
As the Director of After School & Summer Programs, Ms. Q. has been working with students for over a decade, and also loves her role as resident storyteller in Tree House. “I like to think of Tree House
, as a large tree with lots of branches. It holds students in the drop-in programs at the base, students can find classes and music lessons in the middle, and the leaves at the top hold Upper Schoolers with Study Tree. The house makes it a homey, cozy and adventurous place.”