One of the things I am most grateful for is how my job allows me the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most amazing people.
I am inspired daily by those who have given their time and talents to after school programs across the country. And since it is apparent, they are not in this business for the vast amount of money they can earn, there is something else that compels them. They love kids!
Yes, I used the “L” word. In a recent training in Arizona, one of the participants told me that the organization she worked for told the employees that they were not allowed to tell the children that they loved them. In today’s climate of media sensationalism and flagrant litigation, it is our children who miss out on knowing there are responsible, capable, adult role models in their lives, who love them and are there to help encourage them to reach their potential. I have said over and over again in the seminars and conference keynotes I have given- “if you don’t love kids, get another job.”
There is a very good reason for this statement. Ultimately, kids bond to people, not programs.
You can have a state of the art facility. Your gym can have beautiful hardwood floors, your basketball rims are still horizontal, the nets are attached, and the basketballs are still around. The problem comes when the adults that work there are not even sure they like children. Children recognize this and they will come once, borrow the basketballs, and never come again. The opposite is also true. Your facility can be held together by the numerous layers of paint on the walls and your idea of fitness equipment could be a broom handle, newspaper, and duct tape. And yet, the adults there genuinely love children. The children will come, again and again….and most likely gift you the basketballs from the other facility, thus providing you an opportunity to teach them a valuable lesson about honesty and integrity.
Hiring and investing in the members of our staff is essential in creating a safe and caring environment.
When I was responsible for interviewing and selecting the individuals who would ultimately be working in the after school program, I always looked for them to express their genuine affection for children without any prompting on my part. They could always develop the skills they needed through the staff development the organization provided, but who they were with children was something they had to bring to the job. I hired for character and compassion because kids bond to people, not programs.
In a recent interview, Oprah was conducting with one of her guests, she was addressing the concept of what makes a good parent. I only caught a glimpse of the program, but the response the woman gave grabbed my attention. She simply stated that parents who love their children “light up” when they see them enter a room. As a staff member of an after school program….do you “light up” when the children come into the MPR? Can they tell from the moment they are in your presence that they are cared for? Are you the kind of adult who they can count on and who restores their hope for the future? It really is that simple. As Dr. James Connor states, “no significant learning occurs in the absence of a significant relationship.” Kids bond to people, not programs.
For breakfast I had fresh eggs from my own chickens, an English muffin with seedless boysenberry jelly! Yum!
Author Profile: @gkgorke