Robbinsville, NJ – Reina Albert, a seventh grader at Pond Road Middle School, has fond memories of her time at the Robbinsville Extended Day (R.E.D.) program when she was a pre-kindergartener. The program, offered at Sharon Elementary School, provided her with valuable opportunities to learn sign language from older students. Reina’s mother, Celeste Albert, expressed her appreciation for the program, highlighting how it helps working parents in Robbinsville balance their responsibilities.
According to Celeste Albert, being a working parent comes with numerous challenges. However, R.E.D. offers a win-win solution by allowing students to learn new skills, make friends, and receive homework help while parents can focus on their work. Pamela Elmi, the founder and director of R.E.D., emphasized that the program goes beyond traditional childcare services. It offers true enrichment to over 170 participants in grades K-8, with a diverse range of programs including yoga, science, hockey, financial literacy, soccer, cooking, tutoring, and homework help.
Elmi underlined that the curriculum at R.E.D. is far from cookie-cutter. Instead, it is tailored to the interests and expertise of the individuals who join the program. Even those who do not require childcare can still sign up for enrichment or tutoring. Jennifer Broyles, whose daughters Elizabeth and Nora are enrolled in R.E.D., praised the program for providing her children with lasting friendships and a sense of community. She also commended the warm and caring teachers who organize engaging activities for the students.
The R.E.D. program was initially conceived by the late Steven Mayer, former Superintendent of Schools, who wanted to create something unique for Robbinsville. Although Elmi took on the role of bringing Mayer’s vision to life, she acknowledges that it is his legacy. Superintendent Brian Betze is committed to building on this original vision, ensuring that R.E.D. continues to receive strong support.
R.E.D. understands the importance of flexibility for working parents. The program offers sliding scale fees based on attendance frequency, as well as scholarships for children participating in free or reduced lunch programs. The before- and after-school care was previously outsourced, but R.E.D. was established after extensive consultation with parents and the school community. School district personnel were recruited to staff R.E.D., ensuring consistency for families.
During the summer, R.E.D. collaborates with the township’s recreation department to provide a camp that offers academic programming alongside before- and after-care. The camp includes a popular robotics program and “Discover Kindergarten,” which eases the transition for children entering the school district. Reina Albert’s mother, Celeste, described this program as one of the best experiences for her daughter, as it allowed her to familiarize herself with the school, teachers, and fellow students before kindergarten began.
Looking to the future, Celeste Albert hopes that Reina will give back to the program by volunteering. R.E.D. encourages teenage students to get involved. For more information about the program, interested individuals can visit the “Families” section of the website or follow @RvilleRED on X (formerly Twitter).