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Storytellers

My Why: Serving From Behind the Scenes

steve serving quote

Most people in the expanded learning field would be able to answer the question, “Do you know your why?” without much trouble.

But I’ll be really honest with you. I didn’t find my “why” until I had worked in this field for a while. I got my first job in an after-school program by answering a classified ad in January of 1992. Why did I apply? Mostly because I had just obtained my college degree and I was ready to try something that didn’t involve serving food. Also because I thought it might be fun.

When I first started, I made all of the classic rookie mistakes. The kids could literally smell my lack of confidence. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to work with a very talented youth development specialist named Ray Trinidad, and by watching him I learned how transformative these programs could be.

I also learned that youth supervision was not my strong suit, so I was put in charge of completing and submitting the paperwork that was required for grant compliance. And it turned out I was really good at that. So I became an after-school administrator. But rest assured, the fact that I didn’t possess a natural talent for youth development did not make me any less passionate about the work we do.

And by “we” I mean “you.” My talents lie in the development of attendance calculation spreadsheets and legislative code, but I have seen first-hand how those skills can make a positive impact on direct service.

steve serving quoteMy “why” became a bit more focused recently when, after 22 years as an after-school professional, I finally became a consumer of the services we offer. My wife Jan has resumed her career as a clinical therapist, and my 6-year-old son Oliver goes to an after-school program every day. We are fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood that offers a good one, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The experience of parenting, latent as it may be in my case, has strengthened my belief that every kid deserves the opportunity to spend their after-school hours with caring adults.

It is self-evident that a safe and supervised child is better off than one who is not, and we, as a society, have a collective responsibility to ensure that every child is afforded this basic right. Contributing to the realization of this vision is why I do the work I do.

This morning Ollie and I shared a breakfast of kiwis and strawberries (organic, of course), and whole wheat toast. I hogged all the coffee for myself.

Author Profile: @steveamick

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