Saber Squad Spotlight

  • Unique Shakopee After-School Program Brings Students and Teachers Together

    A look inside the Saber Squad at East Middle School

    With nearly 800 students in grades 6-8 at East Middle School, within the Shakopee Public Schools district, educators and staff are always looking for opportunities to provide alternative learning environments while also building relationships. Saber Squad, a free after-school Program for students at East Middle School, has been running for the past 10+ years with nearly 250 students engaged in the effort. With an average of 100-150 students attending on a daily basis, there’s an opportunity to positively interact with peers and teachers who are invested in their growth.

    “What’s unique about Saber Squad is the fact that it’s completely voluntary to attend, both for students and our teachers/staff that sign up to work the Program. The students want to be there and our teachers really have fun with them rather than just serving in an after-school supervisory role,” notes Shawn DeBoer, East Middle School teacher and Saber Squad Program Lead since 2011. “What started as a great Spanish Program with 13 kids through targeted services efforts has now grown into an engaging, inclusive and really impactful Program,” shares Mr. DeBoer.

    The Program runs for two hours every Monday and Wednesday after school and includes a snack and transportation for those students who normally receive such services. With a 1:15 student-to-teacher ratio, students are not only able to build relationships with each other in a safe and supportive environment, but can also engage directly with teachers who specialize in a variety of subjects. Alternative activities such as cooking (with the support of Family and Consumer Science teachers), indoor and outdoor sports, crafts and guest events also occur daily.

    “Saber Squad is truly run by our teachers. Kids voluntarily show up because of their genuine interactions and the ability to be in a comfortable after-school environment,” shares Jim Miklausich, East Middle School Principal. “Kids really feel safe, valued and cared for when they are there,” notes Mr. Miklausich.

    Students that attend Saber Squad evenly represent each grade within East Middle School and many of the teachers in the Program continue to return each year, recruiting additional peers and students in the process.

    “I love being in Saber Squad because I can get my work done that I didn’t complete earlier in the day and hang out with my friends - it’s fun,” shares a 2021/22 Saber Squad student.

    To learn more or register for Saber Squad at East Middle School, contact the school’s main office. Learn more about other student-based activities and programs by visiting Shakopee.K12.MN.US.