Title: Youth & Teen Director
School: Aptos Middle School (and Hoover MS, Lincoln HS and Lawton Alternative)
What do you like best about being a site coordinator with ExCEL After School?
I love that my job is different everyday; it’s a job where you get to spend time outdoors playing with kids, learn transferable administrative skills and mentor an incredibly talented and vibrant staff of young professionals. Everyday is a new challenge and adventure.
What were some challenges/barriers you encountered?
High turnover of part-time staff. As a collaborative program, you rely on communication from several different entities—your CBO, ExCEL, your school. You often received conflicting and ever changing information; it can be difficult to find the truth and to pass information on to all concerned parties. Expectations of program leaders is tremendously high—we expect them to teach academics, enrichment and recreation all while instilling the tenets of youth development, yet we can’t offer them benefits, more hours or very competitive compensation.
What has been the school/community reaction for the work you’ve done?
The school community is very supportive. Regardless of whether we are discussing areas of success or for growth, we realize that we are in this together. We have developed this relationship by years of building trust and mutual respect.
What is a fun activity you do after school in your ExCEL program?
Everything we do in our program is fun! Skateboarding, Bike Program, Swim Lessons, Streetside Stories, after school sports leagues, Hip Hop Dance, Drumming, Buddy Program…
What inspirational story can you share with us about one of your students?
A student joined our program in seventh grade. He was in the SDC program during the school day and had pretty low social skills and no self confidence. For the first few weeks of school he refused to engage in activities. He sat quietly during homework and enrichment classes but would never attempt any of the activities. His program leaders made several modifications to the activities in an attempt to engage him, but had few successes. One day, the Program Leader asked him to hold her walkie talkie and let her know if she was called. Suddenly a light came on in this student’s eyes. From that day forward, he became our new Jr. Safety & Support. By the end of 8th grade, this student was single handedly running our front desk in the Teen Center. He was a clear communicator; he addressed parents with confidence and was respected by his peers.
Do you have any advice for parents of your students?
As your children get older they will never begrudge you for the times you showed up. The same cannot be said for the times you don’t.