What If Wednesday: Is it worth the effort?

What If what you are trying to do is worth the effort, despite the apparent “lack of progress”?

“It takes a long time to happen so fast.” -Lupe Fiasco

We are an instant society, aren’t we? We have everything at our fingertips in a matter of seconds on our phones or our tablets. We can gain instant fame through a viral video or social media. When a major event happens halfway around the world, we can be informed within the hour. We can even change our life with a 7-minute workout or a 4-day work week. Our society is about maximum results with minimal effort. Seriously, what is more fun than a nobody, from out of nowhere, becoming an overnight success?!

Most times though, there is no way to get what you want other than to go through the long, arduous process of putting in the work. There are no shortcuts, no easy paths. The way may have been laid out but it is still difficult and full of obstacles. When the barriers are encountered and the stumbles come, what makes a person get up and keep going? Could it be the final product is so appealing, so captivating, that the struggle to get there is irrelevant compared to the joy of achieving the goal? Is it possible that the “overnight success” often is years in the making?

As we work with children and young people, it’s easy to get the feeling there is no significant progress. We see the kids every day and they don’t seem to be getting “better” and, sometimes, they appear to be getting worse! It helps to remember that we are planting seeds in the students we work with. They will not learn all there is to know about math and reading and life by spending a couple of hours a day with us. But each day, we get to plant one more seed, one more idea, one more skill as we spend time with kids after school. Over time, we see the growth.

Whether you are chasing a dream, working on a project, working with people, or trying to improve your health, it is going to take time. There is work to be done. There will be progress and setbacks. Don’t get discouraged because you aren’t seeing immediate, drastic results. Most change and progress is achieved by incremental steps gained by determination and perseverance. Don’t despise the small beginnings. Hang on to the seemingly insignificant victories.

What If it does take a long time to happen so fast?

Brad Lademann

Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

Thursday Thoughts: Making Math Fun in Afterschool!

Encouraging math in afterschool programs not only promotes better grades and increased understanding for students in their classes, but also prepares students for their futures. Employment in STEM related fields is growing, and fostering student’s interest in these subjects is vital to success. Incorporating math into engaging activities can be hard, so here are some ideas to get you started.


A Missouri Example

“Buffalo Prairie Middle School has done a fantastic job of getting their students actively involved in Math. Every Monday they begin with a “math problem” and students are challenged to take a form, work out the problem by showing their work on how they arrived at the answer, then place their answer forms back into the box on Tuesday. The Math Afterschool Club checks the entries and those that get it correct are put in a drawing.  One student, with the correct answer, is picked from each grade, and the principal/Math Club group then announces the winners each Friday. The rewards are donated candy bars.”

Submitted from MASN Afterschool Regional Educator Sandra Pratt

Other Activity Ideas

In order to reinforce student’s understanding of the clock, time, and simple mathematical equations, have students create a clock with the time values being equations. For example, 2 o’clock is written as 3-1, 6 o’clock, 2×3, etc. To make it more advanced for an older age group, they could spot check each other’s clocks, make more complex mathematical equations, and even create a puzzle by cutting their clock into 12 slice.


Games which incorporate a group of students are another great way to get students excited, and Math Bingo is a simple and fun way to do just that! Staff members call out equations and have students search for their answer on their board, or vice versa- students hear the answer and search for a corresponding equation. This works for any age group–you’ll just want to target skill levels accordingly.


Another fun option is to have a Math Race. Divide students into two teams, with two students (of opposite teams) racing each other to find the correct answer to the equation called out by staff. Every time the team wins, they get a point. At the end the winning team gets candy. This game not only allows for a competitive spirit, but also makes quick thinking a priority!

We hope you’ll try these activities and more, as making math a part of your afterschool program can positively affect students by reinforcing their learning in the school day and getting them excited about math!

February = We <3 Afterschool

Love is in the air! As Valentine’s Day approaches, now is a great time to reflect and engage our communities in reflecting on why we love afterschool and summer learning programs.

The Afterschool Alliance has created a printable template for you to use to share why you love afterschool. Use this template as you work to engage your community this month.

Download this information via PDF here for sharing.

State Advocacy in January

In January’s Advocacy Activities calendar, we shared how you can find and connect with your state representative and state senator. If you haven’t yet connected, this month is a great opportunity to do so via an office visit or inviting them out for a site visit.

You can also engage your legislators by having them share why they love afterschool. Take them the printable template, take their picture, and make sure to share it on social media.

Local Advocacy in January

This month could also be a good time to show love to your program partners. Whether they have donated time, resources, or volunteers to help your program, take this opportunity to send them a Valentine, thanking them for their contributions to keeping your program going throughout the year. Also, plan to engage your partners by having them share their reasons for loving afterschool.

Activities for Youth and Parents

To continue spreading the love this month, share with legislators, school administrators, and your local community why parents and youth love your program. Have your parents and youth fill out the template, and deliver these to your legislators at the Capitol or if they make a site visit.

Note: Be sure to make copies before you deliver these, so that you can save them for the future!

February is also Black History Month, which brings a chance to emphasize the historic achievements and contributions to society from African Americans. Check out this website for some curriculum and activity ideas to celebrate in your program.

Staying Connected via Social Media

Help us raise awareness for afterschool by sharing your pictures and “I Love Afterschool” templates via social media. For each individual picture posted or shared, we will enter you into our contest, and you could win some new afterschool swag!

Just post a picture of yourself with the template, or why you love afterschool on Twitter or Facebook, and tag it with the #LoveMOAfterschool hashtag. Entries are due by February 24, 2017. Each unique post = one contest entry.

Don’t forget to follow us @MO_Afterschool on Twitter and look for the Missouri AfterSchool Network on Facebook!

Upcoming Dates to Remember:

2/14/17—Valentine’s Day

2/24/17—Why We ❤ Afterschool Contest Deadline

Next Month:

3/2/17—STEM Day at the Capitol

3/3-3/4/17—Celebration of Afterschool &  Conference @ Tan-Tar-A Resort 

Have ideas for future months? Email Casey Hanson at hansoncb@missouri.edu to submit your thoughts.

What If Wednesday: Are you listening?

What If you listen more than you speak today? Try to hear what people aren’t saying out loud, the story behind the words.


Stephen Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” If you take a moment to really think about how you hold conversations, you may discover he was pretty close to the truth. As humans, we are much better at dispensing advice, defending our position, or trying to clear confusion using our own words. As others speak to us, outwardly, we are listening to what they are saying. We make eye contact and nod or shake our head appropriately but, inwardly, in our mind, we are constructing our reply at the same time they are speaking. Often that leads to getting stuck on something the other person has said. They continue to speak but we are not hearing because we are formulating a response to something they said three or four sentences before.

Listening – true listening – involves much more than hearing the words someone says. True listening observes body language, hears a tone of voice, and understands voice inflections. True listening is not about giving a reply but is focused on what the other person is saying and not saying at the same time. It is about dropping our defenses or our reasons or our agenda to understand the heart of what is being spoken to us. It involves empathy and stepping into the emotions and motivation of the other. True listening is done with the well-being of the other person, and our relationship with them, at the front of our mind and our heart.

So how can you apply this to your personal and professional life today…? 

What If you make an effort to listen with more than your ears?

What If you listen to your students and to their parents or your coworkers?

What If you pause five seconds before you respond to a question or a statement?

What If you listen more than you speak today?


brad-lademannBrad Lademann
Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

January = Advocate & Educate!


MASN’s Public Policy & Awareness Committee is kicking off the New Year with a new advocacy plan. Each month, we will share a blog post (and downloadable/shareable PDF) with advocacy activities for programs to implement throughout the year. We hope these inspire you to find new ways to connect with leaders at the state and local level, and to incorporate advocacy into your program throughout the year.

State Advocacy in January 

Legislative session is back in swing in Jefferson City, as this month the 99th Missouri General Assembly is sworn into office.

Find out who represents you. You can find your State Representative by visiting (http://house.mo.gov) or your State Senator by visiting (http://senate.mo.gov).

Introduce yourself. A great way to start communicating is by introducing yourself to your legislator and/or their staff with a quick phone call or email. Invite them to your program at some point throughout the year for a site visit or to attend an event you host throughout the year.

Read these tips from the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Snack blog for connecting with new members of Congress and the state legislature. 

Does your legislator tweet? Find their Twitter handle, and make sure you use the #moleg hashtag when tweeting to Missouri legislators.

Here are a few statewide officials Twitter handles to start with:

Missouri Governor @EricGreitens

US Senators @RoyBlunt and @ClaireCMC (Claire McCaskill)

If you connect with your elected officials or are planning a visit, reach out to MASN so we can support your efforts. Contact Casey Hanson, Policy and Communications Coordinator, for more information  at hansoncb@missouri.edu.

Local Advocacy in January

Take this opportunity to make connections with local leaders in your community. Set up meetings with your mayor, city council members, and school board, or plan to attend their public meetings. Reach out to other civic organizations, including your community’s chamber of commerce and other clubs, like Rotary, Lions Club, etc. These organizations can often provide great resources in terms of volunteers and financial resources!


Activities for Youth

This month we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16, which is now also the National Day of Service. This is a great opportunity to share MLK Jr.’s story with your youth, and to discuss the importance of community service. If you are in full day programming on the 16th, plan for a way to help your youth give back by serving your community.

Learn more about the MLK Jr. Day of Service here.

Talking about MLK Jr.’s Dream speech is an opportunity to help youth turn their dreams into goals. Help the youth in setting SMART goals for the year this month and develop accountability systems in your program to help them achieve these goals throughout the year.

Check out this article about setting SMART goals with your youth from Edutopia.

Activities for Staff

As we get into the legislative session, encourage your staff to sign up for Twitter! It’s a great resource for connecting with elected officials and is critical for advocacy.

Don’t forget to follow us @MO_Afterschool and use the #MOAfterschoolWorks hashtag so we can share your posts!

Upcoming Dates to Remember:

1/16/17—MLK Jr. Day/National Day of Service

1/31/17—Deadline for Intent to Submit in Afterschool Works! Video Contest

Next Month:

Black History Month (February)

Why We ❤ Afterschool (Valentine’s Day – 2/14)

Have ideas for future months? Email Casey Hanson at hansoncb@missouri.edu to submit your thoughts.

Lights On Afterschool Recap – #MOLightsOn in 2016!


In addition to hundreds of events taking place around the state this October to join in the nationwide Lights On Afterschool celebration (October 20), MASN worked with professionals from local communities to host two Regional Lights On Afterschool summits.

On Tuesday, October 18, MASN hosted the St. Louis Regional Lights On Afterschool Summit at the Youth and Family Center. The audience heard from speakers including parents, afterschool professionals, educators, and policymakers about the importance of afterschool and current successes in the field, and what is needed to continue to build on those successes to provide opportunities for our youth.

Rachel Johnson, whose child participates in the Neighborhood Houses afterschool program, highlighted the importance of afterschool for her family in terms of the opportunities it provides for her child and the support it provides for her as a working parent.

State Representative Michael Butler emphasized the importance for our field, as advocates, to build relationships with our legislators and serve as the experts. Cassandra Kaufman, Deputy Director at the St. Louis Mental Health Board, which provides almost $1 million in funding for afterschool programs in St. Louis City, spoke to the importance of collecting and analyzing data to ensure that investments are targeted toward programming that provides the most positive outcomes for our youth.

Darlene Sowell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Neighborhood Houses, provided a call to action that encouraged attendees to act to ensure that more youth have opportunities through advocacy and collaboration.

Other panelists and speakers included Bonita Jamison, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in the Riverview Gardens School District; Deborah Taylor, Quality Specialist at United 4 Children; Kristy Kight, Vice President of Grant Management Services at ARCHS; Siinya Edmondson, Manager of Afterschool Programs for Northside Youth and Senior Service Center; and MASN Afterschool Leadership Team members Leanne Cantu from Parkway/Rockwood Community Education, David Carroll from Neighborhood Houses, and Brian Crouse with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Hitmakers from David Harrison Elementary in Springfield provided lunchtime entertainment for the Southwest Regional Lights On Afterschool Summit in Branson.

The Southwest Regional Lights On Afterschool Summit was held on Friday, October 21 and hosted by Mayor Karen Best of Branson, Missouri at the Ballparks of America Facility. The audience in Branson had the pleasure of some youth entertainment from the Hitmakers, 4th and 5th graders at David Harrison Elementary in Springfield, who sang the National Anthem and performed during lunch.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion which included Police Chief Stanley Dobbins, Sherwood Elementary School Principal Nicole Holt, Business Owner and Boys & Girls Club Board President Pat Joyce, and Afterschool Parent Terra Alphonso. Each speaker shared how, from their perspective, afterschool programs play a critical role in keeping youth safe, engaged, and learning while supporting parents.

Attendees at the Branson event also had the opportunity to hear the youth perspective from Kat Lopez, the Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks Youth of the Year. Kat shared how participation in her afterschool program helped her build confidence and succeed in school.

The event closed with a call to action from Melodee Colbert-Kean, Joplin City Councilwoman and President of the National League of Cities. She called city leaders to consider policies that create opportunities for youth as investments in our future.

Both summits were a follow-up to the bi-state summit on Afterschool and Expanded Learning hosted by the Missouri Afterschool Network and the Kansas Enrichment Network, which aimed to educate leaders about the value and benefits of afterschool, and to inspire local collective action to create opportunities for youth.

To see a full social media recap of the Lights On Afterschool Summits and other Lights On activities around the state, check out this Storify!