Castro was the president of the parents' association, and she knew her fellow parents needed it. She could relate.
“I was a single mom, I couldn’t afford an after-school program,” Castro said. “You work, you have to pay your bills. When you are a single mom, that affects you.”
She said she put herself in other parents’ shoes when deciding to launch the program with the help of the PS 71 administration and the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council.
“I understand we are a low-income community,” Castro said. “Unfortunately, we need the help.”
Castro now serves as the program’s director, leading after-school programming for 200 students. When they arrive, students have a snack followed by 45 minutes to do homework with the help of assistants and teachers.
Then they work on reading comprehension through a computer program called Lexia. Other days, they engage in cooking, drama, dancing and sports.
“They not only work in school, but they have a chance to work in the after school,” Castro said. “Those students here in the after school, they are always motivated because they want to do their homework and proceed with the activity.”
Her own children graduated and moved on to middle school, but they’re still involved. Castro said her daughter is in an after -school program with the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council and participates in the cheer squad.
Her son comes to PS 71 after school and volunteers.
“I was retiring because my children were not going to this school anymore, they were going to junior high school,” Castro said. “Before I left, I wanted to leave them with something. That was my legacy.”