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Partnerships and Building Relationships / Storytellers

3 Lessons on Growth Through After School Programs

no love loss-STEM-STEAM

Being that this is my first blog as a BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger, I am excited to share my passion for afterschool programs.

When I began in the year 2000, there were more questions than answers. It was the age of discovery and exploration. It was before the After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs existed and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) programs were the only thing we knew. I was hired as a part-time Site Coordinator for an after school program and part-time Campus Supervisor. I wasn’t too sure that it was good for me to operate in both roles.

As the Campus Supervisor I had to watch for dress code violations and behavior issues while monitoring the halls and lunch breaks. How does campus security recruit students to voluntarily attend a program after school? Another factor is that is was not just any program but more specifically a middle school program where students are empowered to have the autonomy to determine whether they stay or whether they go. I can’t lie, it was tough.

I found that it started with relationships.

Students would come talk to me at lunch and I would ask how their day was and what they liked to do. It was the most basic form of finding the pulse to determine student interests. I had no idea that middle school students would be my favorite age group. I loved the fact that they were developmentally able to determine their own thoughts and opinions and make decisions about what was cool and more often than not, determine the complete opposite. I loved that they understood sarcasm and could speak their mind.

When I started, I was only 21 years old. Although I didn’t have much training and preparation when I was hired, I learned a lot from a variety of on-the-job experiences.

3 Lesson

  1. Don’t try to be their best friend. They already have friends so they don’t need another one. They need you. They need someone that is a both a leader and a caring adult.

2. Never allow students to play a game with you where you are tied to a bench. This is never a good idea in any circumstance and will be very hard to explain to your supervisor later on. While it wasn’t me, this is a true story.

3. Never give up. An afterschool job may not be the most high paying job but will be the most priceless position you will ever hold. Why? You will never truly realize the impact you have made on a young person’s life. The legacy that you create in helping a student build skills to be successful will help them for years to come.

For breakfast I had a protein shake.

Author Profile: @juliesesser

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