A few years ago I wrote a book called Lessons in Leadership, drawing on the wisdom of pioneers in the afterschool world – individuals who have made a real difference in developing and sustaining exemplary programs, forging authentic partnerships, building the capacity of thousands of staff members to be more successful than they had ever imagined, influencing public policy and impacting the lives of millions of children and young people.
I've received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from readers who have followed their advice and are becoming part of the next generation of leaders in California and across the nation. Above all, they've learned that leadership isn't a position, it's a choice they've made and you can, too!
Posted in BOOST Breakfast Club on June 03, 2013 by Kristin
I LOVE WORKING AFTER-SCHOOL!! To me, there is nothing like working with students on projects or events that they will remember for their entire lives. What do we do in after-school? We make memories!! I remember when I was eighteen and had just started working in an after-
school program at Gompers Secondary School in one of San Diego's tougher neighborhoods. I had some of the best times of my life providing those students and that community, awesome experiences through the after-school program. We were game changers. We were the change agents that made the school a fun place to be. I never thought at the time that I would be in an administrative program earning my master's degree in educational leadership, training to become a principal. What amazes me most from my time working in after-school, whether it be at Gomers, Castle Park Middle, or at High Tech High, is that I learned so many tricks and tools that are
necessary to effectively running a school as a principal. But, there's a problem, I've become increasingly worried as we move through this educational uncertainty. I am worried that after-school's relationship with the core day is becoming more strained than it has in the past.
Fear of Failure
Posted in BOOST Breakfast Club on May 17, 2013 by Kristin
The tug-of-war between the priorities of quantity of and quality of out-of-school time programs has finally crossed the mud pit. With millions of children still without a place to go afterschool, this conversation has vacillated between the two opinions. But when research shows that children in low quality programs have no better outcomes than children who are unsupervised during the same time, quality must be the focus (Child Trends, 2010-19). Research recently published in Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success (Peterson, 2013) expands on the evidence of impact of excellent programs, giving even more steam to the argument for quality first.
We cannot be fooled into thinking there are vast numbers of programs meeting high quality standards. There are out-of-school time sites tucked in community centers, apartment complexes, faith based organizations, and even on school campuses that lack the deep quality needed to truly create lasting positive impact. With such ample and ongoing research, why is it that there are so many that are not? Certainly the lack of importance is not to blame.
Posted in BOOST Breakfast Club on April 12, 2013 by Steve Amick
A few weeks ago, Jan and I had a meeting with our son's preschool teacher to review Oliver's Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. I didn't even know there was such a thing. When I was a kid, being "Kindergarten-ready" meant you were five. Today, apparently, it's all about whether or not you can properly grip a pencil. I thought that was something you were supposed to learn in Kindergarten! Here, we think we're raising this prodigy because he uses phrases like "on the other hand" and "speaking of that," but it turns out he's the only kid in class who can't write his own name. After registering Oliver in school (which now entails a urine sample, by the way – for the child, not the parents), we attended a Kindergarten orientation that featured their "reading intervention" program – for the ones who enter the system unable to read. Because, you know, if they're not reading on day one, how can they possibly get through constitutional law by the second semester, right? I felt woefully negligent. My son hadn't attended his first day of public school and he was already on the remedial track.
All right, I'm exaggerating a bit, but my point in sharing this story is that I'm finally getting the opportunity to see the work we do from a parent's point of view. I have spent twenty-one years of my life providing programs to students and families. Now, suddenly, I'm standing on the other side of the counter, and it's given me a new perspective on customer service. We are engaged in what my good friend Bob Cabeza refers to as "the sacred work" of caring for other people's children. And I can tell you, the first day we dropped Oliver off at that preschool, entrusting him to people who, despite being highly qualified professionals, were not members of his immediate family, we understood exactly how sacred this work is. Parents, except in the most rare and unfortunate cases, love their children more than anything else in this world, and when you take responsibility for them, you become a part of their family.