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On-Site Staff / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management


Editor’s Note: Welcome first-time BOOST Blogger @bradfrommissouri! Brad is the state lead for the Missouri AfterSchool Network. Brad’s passion is to use his background and experience to develop and manage programs that enhance the lives of individuals and organizations. We are thrilled to have him join our esteemed blogger tribe! 


Are you safe?

It seems like an odd question, doesn’t it? After all, our afterschool programs provide a safe place for students to go when school is out. The safety we provide is not only physical safety, but it is emotional safety as well. Safety in an afterschool program is foundational to what we do.

But, are YOU a safe person? Are you someone your students can confide in and trust? If one of your students is going through a crisis, would they let you know because you are a person who can empathize but not get caught up in the emotion of a situation? Are you an individual who can deliver hope when it seems there is none?

This past week, I had a conversation that made me ask this question of myself- am I safe? The conversation was about a former student I worked with who had experienced a trauma as a teen and didn’t tell anyone about it until she was an adult. The conversation prompted me to ask questions about the culture we had created in our program and why this young lady did not feel comfortable approaching one of the adults about this experience. I have talked with many students about difficult situations and experiences but this conversation made me consider what it means to be a “safe” person.

This is by no means exhaustive but here are a few suggestions on how to be a safe person for your students.

1)    Control Your Own Emotions

This does not mean you cannot display any emotion, but students need for us to not be over the top in our emotional response to their experiences. The stability we demonstrate can be helpful for a student who is likely overcome with emotion. It is okay to be sad or angry that something has happened to someone, but we have to be careful not to match the emotion the student may be feeling. Practice being a person who comes alongside students and recognizes their emotion, but control your own emotional reactions.

2)    Speak Kindly of People

Your students listen to you, even when you are unaware that they are listening. When we demean or speak poorly of others, our students pick up on that. This habit can plant a seed in the student’s mind that you are someone who talks about others, and they may hesitate to trust you. The fear is that, if they tell you something, you may speak poorly of them. Speak kindly of people. Don’t be a gossip.


3)    Bring Hope to the Lives of Students

This seems like it should be a given but it isn’t always. Some of us have personalities that see the worst in a situation before we can see anything positive. When we are working to be a safe person, we have to be intentional about being positive. It does not mean that we are unrealistic about a situation but we can be hopeful for the future. Sometimes just saying, “We’ll get through this together,” can be significant to a child or a teen. Practice bringing hope in every situation.

The world these days can be a scary place for both kids and adults. Our students need us to help them navigate all of their doubts and fears and negative experiences. They need us to create a safe place for them and to be a safe person for them. It takes practice and intentionality, but it can be done.

Are you safe?

For breakfast this morning, I had a sausage and egg wrap along with a chocolate milk.


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