Title: Site Coordinator
School: Sherman Elementary
What do you like best about being a site coordinator with ExCEL After School?
My favorite aspect of being a Site Coordinator is the balance between having a leadership/ administrative role, a visionary role, and a chance to work closely with youth and families. I appreciate the freedom that this position gives me to think creatively outside the box, a charge that I bring to my staff as well.
What were some challenges/barriers you encountered?
This role is challenging because I wear many different hats and answer to several different parties. Because I am responsible to ExCEL, my CBO, and my principal, I am sometimes given different messages and it is difficult to find an appropriate balance.
What has been the school/community reaction for the work you’ve done?
The school and community have been incredibly supportive. I just received such a touching email from a school-day teacher, that I felt like my specific intentions are noticed and appreciated. Getting here was definitely a process, and we had to work hard to gain trust, but now I can say with confidence that we are a very integral part of the Sherman Community.
What is a fun activity you do after school in your ExCEL program?
This is a difficult question because we have fun activities every day. Fridays are probably the favorite day of the week because we run kid’s clubs. These are extra classes that students can choose from, and span a much larger range than weekly enrichment. We have classes like circus tricks, book club, k-2 hip hop, Mandarin, Chinese brush painting, Harry Potter, and toy making. The “most fun” aspect of program is that we have events almost every month. These are very successful, get our students extra excited, and often give them a chance to showcase all the work they’ve been doing so far in the year. Some events from our year include a pajama jammy jam, multicultural potluck, winter extravaganza, talent show, garden party, and health fair.
What inspirational story can you share with us about one of your students?
Last year we had a fourth grade girl in the program who was having emotional breakdowns quite often after school. She is from Marin City and was witnessing and experiencing violence regularly, in addition to having a tough time with her mom. We worked with her closely, listening to her and giving her new tools to express herself through drawing and poetry. We worked on a behavior plan in which she had chances to gain our trust and a reminder system of steps she could take when losing her temper. Over time, her tantrums diminished and she had more success at school. Earlier this year, she walked by with a school-day teacher while another student was having a tantrum. She told that teacher (and later told us) that she used to be like that and that it was strange to watch from the outside. When the teacher asked her how she changed, she said, “GLO helped me stop being so angry,” and described, in detail, all the tools we’d given her.
Do you have any advice for parents of your students?
I hope that parents of our students will accept their children as they are and notice and celebrate their strengths. There are many different ways to be successful and I think parents should try and recognize each moment of their children’s success, even if not all are strictly academic. I also hope that parents emphasize kindness and empathy and acceptance when teaching their children how to interact with others