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Language Enhancement Afterschool Program

English Aquisition | Adventure | Accomplishment

A partnership of the College of Education and Allied Professions, College of Arts and Sciences, Jackson County Public Schools, and the Cullowhee United Methodist Church

LEAP is an after-school program which provides English language learners with meaningful learning opportunities to better prepare them for school and life. LEAP staff believe strongly in the importance of working in partnership with families to support the academic and social development of their children and, therefore, also provide a multitude of parent engagement opportunities throughout the academic year, including bi-weekly English classes for parents.  

LEAP students studying


Students at LEAP have the chance to learn many skills that will help them excel academically. In addition to homework support and the daily activities designed by LEAP staff and tied to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, LEAP students also participate in weekly clubs, field trips, and enrichment activities hosted by the students and faculty at WCU.  

 LEAP teachers and volunteers are trained to give each child the very best instruction, using the most up-to-date technologies and methodologies. Dr. Eleanor Petrone, the director of the undergraduate TESOL program at WCU, works closely with LEAP teachers and interns to ensure effective strategies are used to support the students’ English language acquisition. In addition, many of the staff at LEAP are bilingual and able to support students with very limited English proficiency in a language they understand, so meaningful curricula are not lost.

LEAP student working on active board lesson


LEAP is a multilingual, multicultural program, where all people, languages, and cultures are treated with respect. LEAP strives to better the lives of the children and families it serves, as well as support pre-service teachers and practitioners to work effectively with a culturally rich population.  Jake McGarity is a two time graduate of WCU and ecstatic to be back working at the place that taught him how to teach! Prior to leading the LEAP program, McGarity was a high school science teacher and instructional coach among Gaston County & Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. In his most recent post, he was the High School Program Director for the Dream Center, a 21st Century  Learning Center servicing 6th-12th graders after school and all summer long. With a background of diverse school settings, Jake knows the power and value that after-school programs have on the academic trajectory of a student.  However, his favorite outcome of afterschool programs is the social mobility afforded by students who return to the program year after year,  developing positive relationships with their peers and non-traditional educators. These experiences ensure that the "whole child" is being supported & inspired.  Former WCU Chancellor, David Belcher used to say "....we at Western are in the business of changing lives!!!!"   By employing WCU students from educational majors, LEAP is making that charge a daily reality. 

Primary Goals:

  • To promote English language development and proficiency.
  • To focus on reading, writing, and math skills through a developed and responsive curriculum.
  • To improve the communication and social language skills of students who are or were a part of the ESL program at Cullowhee Valley School or who have a sibling in the ESL program at Cullowhee Valley School.
  • To establish a parent outreach and education program.
  • To create a safe educational space where all languages and cultures are respected.

Benefits of Afterschool Programs:

Studies have shown that the more a child participates in afterschool programs, the more likely he/she is to show academic and social gains.

Arts and Crafts at LEAP

LEAP is Rising to Meet New Challenges

LEAP follows Jackson County Public Schools policies to create a flexible program that can accommodate changes to program plans and offer solid programming which meets children’s academic, emotional, and social needs for the new school year.

Would you like to know more? Please visit the LEAP Annual Report for more information.



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