In college, I was in search of a work-study position to help pay the bills.
I knew I loved working with children and so I interviewed for a position with a local after school program. Not only did I receive the job, I received a life-long mentor in the field of education, a passion for the out-of-school time field, and a purpose for continuing my education and career path with children, families, and communities.
I do what I do because of the relationship aspect of out-of-school time programs.
For example, I was talking to a 2nd grade student who has struggled in her relationship with her teacher. She shared with me that the teacher was calling her a “drama queen” and that deep down, that was making her feel embarrassed and frustrated. I was able to practice and role-play with this student and help her find words to say to her teacher: “I don’t like it when you call me drama queen. I would like you to call me by my name.” You know what…she said those words the very next day and her teacher apologized and said she didn’t realize the hurt of her words and committed to calling her by her name!
Helping children find identity and confidence in a safe place is something we can do in out-of-school time programs.
I do what I do because of the ability to be creative and teach students in meaningful ways. Whether it is making art for the garden, cooking up nutritious foods, or matching adult mentors with children, my hope is that these learning moments extend into children’s homes and their neighborhoods.
Even though we might not see immediate impacts, I continue to do what I do because of a piece of mail that came to me recently from a student that spent several years in our after school program: “I didn’t think there were any nice people left in the world until I met you.”
Out-of-school time programs provide safe, creative, and whole places in our communities around the world.
Our time and dedication is not just spent making sure that we are being present in the moment with our students but also in creating relationships that impact the future life of a child, a family, and a community.
For breakfast I had a bowl of oatmeal and iced coffee.
Author Profile: @kristinstayer