This blog was originally posted on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Out-of-School Time Blog.
The Best Out-of-School Time (BOOST) Conference is coming up, and this year I'm honored to once again co-present with Bruno Marchesi, Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Collaborative Solutions. We will be discussing Local, State, and National Perspectives on the Healthy Afterschool Movement.
Prior to his role as COO, Bruno served as Project Manager for the Healthy Behaviors and My Brother's Keeper statewide initiatives. Bruno has also previously served as Program Director of the UC Davis School of Education and the California AfterSchool Network. Additionally, both Bruno and I are bloggers with the BOOST Breakfast Club!
First question: Why did you choose to work in the out-of-school time (OST) space? Why do you think OST essential for the success of children?
I began my journey in after school working as a line staff in an after school program in 1997. I did not realize until much later in my career that after school programs not only provide a safe and supportive space for young people, but it exposes them to academic enrichment opportunities that they otherwise may not have. Afterschool provides young people an opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with their peers and caring adults, while at the same time giving them an opportunity to develop their voice and leadership skills.
Second question: What are some experiences you've had working in OST that have helped you develop as a professional?
As I developed my own skills in after school and got an opportunity to be promoted into other positions within the OST field, I cannot say enough about the blessing that I have received to be surrounded by such great coaches throughout my career. These folks really invested their time, energy and expertise to help me develop my skills while showing me personal and professional friendship and helping me aspire towards and develop career goals. This really has been the key to success for my development in the field. I can only hope to do my part and pass along the knowledge and experience that I have gained to others in the field.
Third question: What do you feel like is missing when it comes to training OST professionals?
I believe that as a field, we have grown to be more sophisticated about the professional development offerings that we provide our staff. I think we need to do a better job with mentorship, focusing not only on outcome based skills but soft skills when it comes to leadership development, core values, and transferring of knowledge between colleagues.
Let's keep going: What's one of the best pieces of advice someone has given you while working in the OST field?
One of my former mentors always emphasized the value of prioritizing what is really important based on your own core values, only then will we have the time to do what is needed and what we deem important in life. It is the difference between doing things right... and doing the right things.
One more: With high turnover and lower pay, how do you think young professionals can be recruited and retained to work in OST?
I truly believe that each person has to make their own decisions about staying, however, having an intentional vision and an organizational culture that fosters trust is key to building community engagement, both internally with our staff, and externally with those whom we serve. It's about creating systems to treat our staff in the same way that our organization intends to serve our community.
Thanks Bruno! Who are the coaches and mentors in your life? Who do you have the ability to inspire? Take time this week as you plan activities and schedules to reflect and reconnect with the core values that drive you and your commitment to out-of-school time.
For breakfast I had a coffee and scrambled eggs.