CAST program making a difference, volunteers needed Print

By Bonnie Prindle

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The school year has begun, and for many students that means they’re back to the 8 to 3 routine. For Salem Middle School students who attend the CAST after school program, however, the learning doesn’t end when the three o’clock bell rings, and students are learning much more than what can be found in a book.


CAST, which stands for Creating Avenues for Student Transformation, was founded in 2014 when a group of community members saw a gap in after-school programs for middle school kids in the Salem area. The program was begun with the intention of providing mentoring and tutoring opportunities for students in middle school.

Now in its third year of operation, CAST provides much more than homework help. Participants of the program are bused from Salem Middle School to Southern Hills Christian Church every Tuesday and Thursday, where they receive a healthy snack, personalized tutoring, character building lessons, and important life skills.

“A lot of kids come to us because they’re right on the edge of being successful students,” said Cassie Summers-Corp, the CAST program director. “They’re bright and motivated but they just need something to put them over the edge.”

That’s where the CAST volunteers come in – and they’re in need of more of them. Volunteers often offer assistance with homework, teach life lessons, or just spend time with the kids. CAST is looking for volunteers with math and reading skills, but according to Cassie, it’s much more important that they have a passion for getting to know the students.

“Some people are reluctant to become volunteers because they’re worried they don’t know the ‘new math’ style and things like that,” said Cassie. “But the most important thing to us is knowing that you want to build a relationship with these kids.”

Those interested in volunteering for CAST need to fill out an application and complete a background check. After that, there will be a training day in September where they will be given more information and resources. Volunteers can commit to attending one day a week, or they can commit to being a sub when someone is not able to be there.

The CAST program will begin September 12th, and there is still time for middle school students who are interested to sign up. CAST will take middle school students from other school districts besides Salem, as long as they provide their own transportation.

“I really enjoy watching the students in our program start to succeed and start to believe in themselves and start to believe they are capable of great things,” said Cassie. “Being a volunteer gives you the opportunity to see that positive change and be a part of that positive change in a kid’s life.”

For more information on how to get involved, call 812-883-1637.