What if Wednesday: What if you had writer’s block?

Blank notepad and pencil

Do you ever have those days where, no matter what you try, you just cannot get your mind to focus on the task at hand? You know the tricks…make a list, take a walk, grab a snack. You’ve tried them all and none of them have helped. Regardless of the method, you just cannot clean up the mess in your brain in such a way that allows you to get something done.

Welcome to my world today.

For whatever reason, I have not been able to settle my mind on one topic for this week’s What If blog. I have plenty of ideas but I can’t get to a place that will allow me to expand a thought enough for it to be helpful to you, the reader. So, you will get a little peek into the chaos that is my mind this week. (Scary!!)


Here are a few thought provoking “What If…?” questions for you. We would love to hear your responses to any of these questions in the comment section below. Happy thinking!!

  • What If we are intentional about paying attention to the health of our students (physical, mental, emotional, and relational)? What would that look like in your afterschool program?


  • What If, instead of complaining about parents, we did all we could to support them through our afterschool program? Think about how much you complain about parents versus how much you do to support positive parenting. What do you need to change?


  • What If we pay attention to the small victories every day? Sometimes it’s easier to see the incremental progress than it is to see the overall forward movement. Look for the “wins” on a daily basis.


  • What If we recognize the magnitude of the opportunity to have a positive impact in a young life? Children are often a parent’s most prized possession. It is a great privilege for us to be able to serve students and families. Understanding this privilege can sometimes be motivation to get through the daily grind.


  • What If self-care for our staff became a part of our program culture? What do you have in place to help staff take care of themselves? What are you doing to create a positive work environment?


  • What If you could ask for programming resources you would like to have? What would you ask for?


There you have it, a glimpse into my distracted mind this week. I hope you have been pushed to think a little today. As I said, we would love to see your thoughts on these “What If…?” questions posted in the comments below.

Show LOVE for Afterschool!


It’s that time of year again – Valentine’s Day – and LOVE is in the air. 

Each year at this time, we like to remember and share all of the reasons we love afterschool. Whether it’s the convenience of the program for working parents, the awesomely exciting activities and field trips, the lifelong friendships made, or the amazing staffers that dedicate time and effort to making their programs perfect, afterschool programs are changing lives in Missouri (and nationwide) every day.

How can you show your LOVE for afterschool?

  1. Print off this template and snap a picture of yourself sharing why you LOVE afterschool! Share this on social media using the hashtag #IHeartAfterschool to join in the statewide and national conversation.
  2. Engage your partners and supporters by encouraging them to participate in this challenge! You can share these sample tweets or post ideas for engaging policymakers and others in the discussion on social media.
  3. Collect the heart templates from staff, parents, and youth to share at the upcoming Afterschool Advocacy Day on February 20th!

Not registered for Afterschool Advocacy Day yet? Don’t miss your chance to join MASN & advocates from around the state in Jefferson City on February 20.

Register for Afterschool Advocacy Day here. 

We are so grateful for all of the things that you do to support youth and their families each day when school is out! Be on the lookout as MASN shares our reasons why we love afterschool next week on social media.

We ❤ you!

What If Wednesday: Planting the Seeds of Service


What If there is something we can do in our afterschool programs to help students look beyond themselves?

I am sure it is not a revelation to you when I say that kids are self-centered. You know this. You see it every day in your program. Honestly, it is part of the developmental process that kids go through as they grow up. Our hope is that they get through that phase and realize that life is bigger than they are.

One of the distinct benefits of afterschool programs is that we have opportunities to engage students in hands-on, experiential learning. Whether it is coding Ozobots, creating artwork, or learning about careers, the world of afterschool can (and should!) look very different from the regular school day classroom. When it comes to learning about serving others, and getting outside of yourself, afterschool is a perfect place for that.

Service learning as a term is relatively new and it can mean different things to different people. At its core, service learning is about students doing something for others with no expectation of anything in return. In the process, the students learn about themselves, others, and the community. Students can come to see that serving others not only helps those in need but it also does something positive within the one providing the service.

Thinking about service learning can be intimidating for some, but it doesn’t have to be. We don’t have to come up with a project that will affect the entire world. There are plenty of opportunities to serve right where we live. Here are a few ideas…

What If you look around the building where your program meets and see what needs to be done?

For younger students, it could be picking up trash around the outside of the building. For older students, it might be painting a wall or two. There is always something that can be done to help beautify a building. If you can’t think of anything, ask the building maintenance person. I am sure they would have an idea or two for you!

What If you ask your students where and how they might like to serve?

It is always good to bring youth voice into the planning process in our own programs. Students may see things that need to be done, but they don’t know how to address the issue. You could be the person to help them make a difference. Ask your students if there are any needs they are aware of in their school or community.

What If you contact some of your community leaders and ask if they have any service opportunities for your students?

Many communities rely on volunteers to take care of different areas of the city or town. When youth can step into some of these areas and contribute, it not only benefits the community, but it can also create a sense of ownership in the kids.

Monday, January 21st is the MLK National Day of Service. For most, it is a day off of school or work but it is an opportunity for us to be “on” when it comes to serving. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself once said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” I have told people for years that, in working with students in afterschool programs, we are planting seeds in kids that may bloom much later in their lives. What If you plant the seed of serving others in your afterschool students? Who knows what changes may come about in your community, in your students, and in you!


For more information on the National Day of Service, visit https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service.




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.

What If Special Edition: One word for the New Year.


It’s that time of year, isn’t it? No, Im not talking about the time of year for friends and family, holiday parties and winter break. I’m talking about the time of year for reflecting on this past year and thinking about how the next year will be different. I am talking about the time for New Year’s Resolutions!

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution? Have you ever failed to follow through on it? My guess is that most of us have tried, and failed, to change things up at the beginning of a new year. Research shows that fewer than 10% of us actually follow through on resolutions throughout the new year. That is a pretty high rate of failure!

What If there is a better way to approach doing things differently as we enter the year 2019?

A growing trend over the last few years has seen people picking One Word as their theme for the year instead of making a New Year’s Resolution. In picking One Word for the new year, a person can avoid the feeling of failing to meet a resolution because the One Word functions as an overall theme for the year instead of a goal that can be met or not.

For instance, let’s say a person would like to exercise and eat better in 2019. A New Year’s Resolution could be to go to the gym three times a week and eat more vegetables. As we know, it’s easy to start strong by going to the gym and not eating ice cream for the first two weeks of the year. But then you get sick and you miss two straight workouts. Not only that, but you have a sore throat and cold ice cream feels really good on some tender tonsils. Those two missed workouts turn into four missed workouts and then we are right back where we started…not going to the gym and not eating more vegetables.

What If, instead of a gym and vegetable resolution, we pick the word Health as our One Word for the year? This could encompass working out, eating better, taking care of our mental health, and developing healthy relationships with those around us. By picking a word, we can focus on the overall picture of Health instead of getting bogged down by our failure to hit the gym. “Health” becomes something we are conscious of, a mindset, and not a target that we continually miss.

At our Summer Camp meeting this year, our Afterschool Regional Educators (AREs) each picked a word he or she would like to focus on for this school year. (Another beauty of picking One Word is that it can cover your personal life as well as your professional life!) The words that were chosen were Shine, Sensitivity, Attender, Proactive, Patience, Harmony, Mindful, Memorable, and Momentum. These words describe how we would like to be in working with our afterschool programs around the state and also how we would like to approach our personal life.

I would like to challenge you to not make a New Year’s Resolution for 2019. I am challenging you to pick a word, One Word, that will serve as a relevant theme to your personal life and to your work with students.

What If One Word can change your approach to your life and your work?




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.

Friday Follow Up: Highlights from the 1st MASN High School Student Summit


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Wednesday, December 12, the Missouri AfterSchool Network hosted its first High School Student Leadership Summit with Matthew and Joseph Moheban of 220 Leadership. 70 students from seven afterschool programs throughout the state came together at the University of Missouri for leadership training and a campus tour.

The event was designed as a leadership retreat for high school students to dream about their futures, consider the possibilities, and make a plan to achieve their 220 (second-to-none) life. Through small and larger group discussions, attendees delved into topics including obstacles to success, thinking outside of the box, stepping out of their comfort zones, and reverse engineering a plan, with SMART goals, to achieve their dreams – whatever they may be.

The training offered lots of hands-on opportunities for students to apply critical thinking skills, problem solve and network and build relationships with students from other parts of Missouri. Youth also had the opportunity to go on a campus tour at the University of Missouri, led by current college students, who fielded their questions about campus life, degree programs, and much more.

As part of their participation in the event, attendees and their program leaders will also receive access to materials to continue their visioning and planning beyond the summit. This is a great way for afterschool leaders to integrate college and career planning into their programs, and with access to the free resources, they can take the same curriculum ideas back for the youth unable to attend the in-person training.

Sound like something of interest for youth in your program?

MASN is planning a second High School Student Youth Leadership Summit for Spring 2019 (date TBD) to be held at Missouri Science and Technology’s campus in Rolla, MO.

For more information, stay connected through the MASN Pipeline, Facebook page, or contact Brad Lademann at lademannb@missouri.edu. Also, be on the lookout for a highlight film from this week’s summit, which will be shared in early 2019.

Want more information about the 220 Leadership Program? 

Visit the 220 Leadership website here. 

What If Wednesday: Commit to Life Long Learning.

Lifelearning Quote

What If you commit to being a lifelong learner?

When we were very young, it started before we were even aware that it was happening. It was mostly accomplished just by instinct and by observing what was happening around us. At some point, the activity became intentional, though it was not necessarily our choice to be intentional about it. We lived in this mandatory phase through most of our childhood and into our late teen years, after which, the activity became voluntary for us again. The activity I am talking about, of course, is learning.

As adults, we are not required to continue to learn. You might have to engage in continuing education for your job, but that is often limited in scope and focused specifically on what you do to make a living. Other than that, there is not much that makes it mandatory for us to learn about anything. We continue to learn as we live because sometimes circumstances demand that we pick up some new information or a different perspective. However, much of our learning, as adults, is unintentional.

Let me ask you a few questions:

When was the last time you took a class of your choosing?

When was the last time you read a book of your choice and finished reading it?

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who had a different perspective than you do on some topic?

As afterschool professionals, we encourage our students every day in their learning process. We work to provide engaging activities that push students to learn and explore. We offer tutoring so our kids can improve their scores in academic areas in school. Our afterschool programs are often founded on providing opportunities for students to continue to learn.

What If you could model for your students what lifelong learning looks like?

Here are a few ideas to help you keep learning:

  1. TAKE A CLASS: This doesn’t mean “go back to school”, though it could be that for you. It is just about learning something you didn’t know before. Take a cooking class. Take lessons to learn how to play an instrument. Sign-up for martial arts classes. Explore online classes about education or sign-language or photography or anything that interests you. Intentionally learn something new.
  2. READ: Reading is one of the learning activities that we know is “good for us” but it often falls by the wayside in adult life. The average American reads one to four books per year. We regularly encourage our students to read. How much more impactful would it be if the kids knew we were readers as well? If you are looking for something good to read, I would suggest The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, and The Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard.
  3. LISTEN: Most of the time, when we have a conversation with people, we are working to communicate our thoughts and ideas. This is especially true when we are talking with someone who sees the world differently than we do. The next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone with a differing opinion, make an effort to really listen. Ask questions. Engage where they are. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything or switch to their viewpoint, but be curious about how that person arrived at their conclusions. You may learn something.

Our students listen to what we say, but they often pick up more from observing what we do. We can talk about what they need to learn and we can make a difference OR we can model intentional, lifelong learning and have a deeper impact, not only for our students, but also for ourselves.




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.

What If Wednesday: Look for Inspiration


It is conference time here in Missouri! We are just a few days away from the 2018 MOSAC2 Professional Development Institute (PDI), an event designed to engage afterschool professionals, connect them with other like-minded people, and enhance the quality of programming across the state of Missouri.

Before we arrive at a conference, we often have an idea of what we would like to get out of our time there. Maybe we would like to learn about the latest STEM activities we can use with our students or we might look forward to meeting someone who can help us with ideas on how to hire and retain quality staff.  For some, the conference serves as a break from the daily grind of programming for our students. That’s not a bad thing!!

The central purpose of most conferences is to provide an opportunity for participants to learn and to be inspired in what they are doing. The MOSAC2 PDI is no different. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as we approach a conference.

  1. Be open to inspiration

Inspiration does not always come in a nice, neat package and it often comes from unexpected places. It may not look like inspiration, with rainbows and music and fireworks. It may just be in a word, in a phrase, or in a story. Inspiration comes when we pay attention. Look for it in the keynote addresses, the breakout sessions, and in conversations with co-workers and new friends.

  1. When you are inspired, let your first thought be a positive one.

We are often our worst critic. We can find ways to dismiss ourselves faster than anyone else could. We are so good at coming up with ways that something won’t work for us. While at the conference, listen to what is said, take it in, and intentionally think about how you might use and adapt what you are hearing in a successful way for yourself and your program. Don’t dwell on all the ways you can’t do something. Let the inspiration take hold and then go for it!

  1. When you have found inspiration, and you return home, take small steps to implement your ideas

When you are inspired, it is important to take action but don’t try to do everything at once. We all want to change the world but that doesn’t happen quickly. Understand that when inspiration hits, it is usually followed by a process. It is rare that we take one step and everything is how we envisioned life would be. Be ok with the process that is necessary to make your inspiration a reality.

We hope to see you at the MOSAC2 PDI in the near future. While you are there, have fun and enjoy your time but, in all things, be looking for inspiration. You never know where you might find it!!

Help Us Turn #MOLightsOn this October!


It’s October and Lights On Afterschool is just 24 days away! Whether you host a small event in your program or a large community event, it is important to join this annual celebration of the importance of afterschool programs for youth, families, and communities. Check out some of our tips below and make the most of this year’s Lights On Afterschool.

Register your event.

Take 5 minutes and register your event with the Afterschool Alliance. This is a quick way to let others know your event is happening by putting it on the map and sharing some basic information about your event. This also allows us to track how many events are happening all around Missouri.

Get social for Lights On!

Download the Missouri LOA Social Media Toolkit and plan your Lights On celebrations with social media posts. This is a great way to raise awareness for your event and the day in general and allows you to add your voice to the national conversation.

Create a Lights On video and you could win a prize!

This year, Lights On Afterschool is happening right before the MASN video contest deadline. You can make the most of LOA and the video contest, by preparing a video for your event and entering it into the contest. There will be two grand prize ($500) winners and two runner up prizes ($250). Read more about the video contest here.

Reach out for help.

MASN wants your event to succeed! If there is any way we can help with last minute details or planning, please reach out to us and the MASN team can help. Also, make sure you visit the Afterschool Alliance Lights On Afterschool website, which is a wealth of resources for all things Lights On. From sample proclamations to press releases to event ideas, you can find it on their website.

For more tips and tricks, check out our LOA webinar PPT from September.

No matter what you do, remember – the main point of Lights On Afterschool is to celebrate all of the great work happening for youth and families in our communities every day. Youth development professionals, like you, work hard to make life better for the youth that you serve, and this is work that deserves recognition and a the chance to be in the spotlight at least once a year.

What if Wednesday: Don’t get stuck.


same old thinking

What If it isn’t just the individuals within an organization who need to be flexible?

What If the organization itself needs to adapt at times?

If you have been working in afterschool for more than ten minutes, you understand that flexibility and the ability to adapt to circumstances is critical to maintaining your sanity.

Every day in an out-of-school time setting, situations arise that cause us to adjust our plans and actions on the fly. Whether it is a coworker calling in sick so we have to carry more of the load or an activity we have planned gets rained out, afterschool professionals know that the ability to be flexible and to adapt is foundational to our work with students.

We have to practice being flexible and adapting on a day to day basis.

There is a tendency in humans to want to remain comfortable. It is in our nature to find a place of safety and comfort and then stay there. The problem is that things keep changing around us. When we keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, over time what we offer can become less relevant to those we are working to serve. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Our approach can become outdated. This goes for individuals and for organizations.

So, how do we combat this tendency?

What do we need to do to practice being flexible and adaptable?

  1. Be Proactive. It is usually easier to change on your own terms than it is to change because you are being forced to change. Set regular times to evaluate what you are doing as an organization and as an individual. Ask questions about why you are doing something a certain way. If you have a solid justification for doing it that way, then keep doing it. If you are doing something because that is the way it’s always been done, it may be time for a change.
  2. Stay current on trends in education. Read books and articles that are relevant to how you would like your program to operate. Talk to others in the field to find out how they are approaching different components of programming. Keep your mind open to ideas and opportunities that will improve your organization, even if it means changing the way you operate. This doesn’t mean you chase every trend and fad, but it can help you stay aware of how things are changing and how you might be able to adjust what you do.
  3. Look forward. You will need to be intentional about this one for sure. It is so easy to get caught in the routine of the day to day and to forget about the long term. A good practice is to sit down once a year (now would be a good time!) and talk with your coworkers about what you would like to accomplish throughout the year. As a discussion starter, talk about what your students, their parents, your funders, your community, and school administration would say about your program at the end of this school year. What will you need to do for people to say these things about you and your program? Keep an eye on the future in all that you do and adapt where you see the need.

Flexibility and adaptability are necessary when working with students. They are just as necessary as we look at the big picture of afterschool.

What If you practice being flexible and adaptable in order to help move your organization forward?




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.

Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks: A Visit from Congressman Long


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last Friday, the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks hosted Congressman Billy Long at their Branson Unit. Representative Long met with key community stakeholders, State Representative Jeff Justus, Branson Mayor Karen Best and board members of the Club to better understand the services and impact afterschool programs have in the Ozarks Community.

The Club tour was led by three Teens: Jasmine White (2018 Youth of the Year), Trinity Bendall (7th grader at Branson) and Sami Maybe (7th grader at Branson). Jasmine said, “It was an incredible honor to represent the Club for Congressman Billy Long.  I will never forget this amazing opportunity!”

During the tour the Teenagers shared the Clubs outcome driven programs and the impact the Club is having in their lives preparing them for graduating on time, being better prepared for the workforce, and making healthy decisions for a healthy lifestyle.

Representative Long engaged in conversation with youth in every department.  He was excited to hear about the program’s Forty-hour Internship Tryout (FIT) program and even offered Jasmine a future opportunity to do her internship in his Congressional Office.

Interested in hosting a site visit?

Whether it’s a simple visit or a more elaborate program, it is important that afterschool leaders invite in members of local, state, and federal government to show the importance and value of afterschool for youth and families in their communities. This can lead to more funding and better support for improving quality and sustainability of programs long term.

The Afterschool Alliance has some great resources for helping to plan your site visit. Check their resources for planning a site visit here.

The Missouri AfterSchool Network is also always willing to lend a hand in helping! Contact Casey at hansoncb@missouri.edu for advice or assistance in planning a site visit.

With Lights On Afterschool around the corner on October 25, 2018, now is a great time to start planning a site visit. It is important that we consider inviting out community leaders to highlight afterschool across Missouri, so that we can build support and work toward our mission of high-quality, accessible programs for ALL Missouri youth and families!