Breakfast Club Blog

If I’d Only Known…

Have you ever had an “if only I’d known…” episode? This happened to me when I learned some simple ways I could have helped a hearing-impaired student join my YMCA afterschool program with much less stress and fuss—had I only known. Basically, this is what happened: In the fall of 1999, a father came to my office to register his son and his stepson for our afterschool program. He was newly married, had just moved to the area and had some difficulty completing all the neces...Read More

We ARE the hope we’ve been waiting for!

A career? After School? What?! Yes folks, believe it or not, the career pathways in youth work are out there! It is not an esoteric profession that only a few elite have access to. It is much attainable for anyone that is willing to work, network and advocate for youth. However, there is a sub-culture among the youth work movement that has been lost in the bureaucratic educational methods of the past and is unable to create a new definition of the craft. This discernment of the ‘work’...Read More

Walking the Walk

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” –Stephen Covey, The 8th habit The two quotes above speak so powerfully to the importance of having a mentor alongside you in your life’s journey. I’ve been fortunate to have had a few mentors beside me in my journey and as I consider our work in after sch...Read More

Best Practices in Afterschool: A Call for Mentorship

Due to the nature of my job, I visit a lot of afterschool programs throughout the country. A common element I’ve noticed at any program, whether they are in schools, community buildings, or churches, is the smell. It is the same no matter where I go. There’s always a hint of disinfectant, perhaps some body odor if it’s a middle school program, crayons, paint, chalkboards, whiteboard markers, or computer labs (I don’t know what that smell is, but there is definitely someth...Read More

The Importance of Being Intentional

Sue, an afterschool staff member, races into the school at 2:30 p.m. She came from a school across town where she has been a substitute all day. Sue gives a hurried “hello” to the school administrative assistant as she signs in for the day. Now, Sue runs down to the cafeteria, grabs the snacks, gets the attendance sheets to put on the tables, and figures out what activities are going to be offered to students once they finish homework help and tutoring. She finds some crayons and but...Read More

Where the Rubber Meets the Road- Planning a Successful Afterschool Activity

Building on the concept that the most productive learning comes through active involvement, the effectiveness of any program that seeks to develop skills in youth must be rich in activity. Remember, most of the students sit for almost 7.5 hours a day! They are eager to be involved in activities that allow for action and interaction. Enthusiasm is contagious and movement essential. You do not need a repertoire of several hundred activities. Such a large selection is simply not practical and, more...Read More

Dream, Baby, Dream

As you may know, I am privileged to do school assemblies across the country speaking to all kinds of students. Even when I start driving onto the school campus I begin to feel those “dad emotions” coming up in me. I want to hug every person. I want to spend hours with each of them individually just to hear their story. They’re all–every one of them–amazing kids. We all do what we do because we believe in young adults. They are packed with potential and need someone they respect...Read More

ABC’s of professional, purposeful, and powerful programming practices

These ABC’s are philosophical foundations. They are new and powerful paradigms. Paradigms are like mental models that we all have about the way things should be done in afterschool programs. These ABC’s might challenge the paradigms or mental models that you might carry in your own mind. We challenge you to consider these shifts and the way you may think about how afterschool programs should be. Autonomy Autonomy is the ability to act independently, to be self-governing. Autonomy is ...Read More

GIRLS: A Sneak Peek Into Their World of Aggression

In the past couple of years there has been much talk about females becoming more aggressive and violent. More aggressive? Many people would say that’s an understatement. More violent? Now, that’s not such a clear answer. According to the latest research conducted by the Girls Study Group for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “available evidence based on arrest, victimization, and self-report data suggests that although girls are currently arrested more ...Read More

Don’t Curse in Front of Kids: Improving Staff Development

I’m going to tell you a story, which I hope has something to do with after school. When I was 21, I went to Cameroon, West Africa to teach elementary school. This might have been a bad idea – I’d never taught anyone anything, had a spotty reputation as a babysitter, and was more comfortable with dogs than kids. But, I knew more about kids than about irrigation systems or artificially inseminating cows so it seemed like my best option to get to Africa. I was signed up to teach E...Read More

From Changing Lives To Saving Lives

For the past fifteen years I’ve had the privilege of working in the afterschool field as a program director, consultant, policymaker and advocate. I’ve met countless people who are making a huge difference. Students are doing better in school, becoming more enthusiastic about learning, developing positive social relationships, experiencing new things and mastering new skills. There’s no question that afterschool programs change lives. Now it’s time to save lives. Just a f...Read More

Stop, Look, and Listen with Your Eyes

A number of years ago, I clipped a cartoon from the daily newspaper to add to my collection of poignant printed reminders that deal with the importance of valuing interpersonal relationships. In the cartoon, a little blond boy of six or seven was looking forlornly at his mother, who was busy ironing the family’s clothing. She appeared to be listening to what he had to say, but her eyes were downcast, concentrating on her chore. In the cartoon callout, the young boy begged, “Listen wi...Read More