What If Wednesday: What if there is more?

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Your program is going well. Kids are showing up and enjoying themselves. Parents appreciate what you do for their children. Even the schools whose children you serve are pleased with the academic and behavioral improvement they see from students who attend your program. Life is good!! But…

What If there is more you can give your students?

I am fully aware that question has the potential to make you angry because you are already doing so much OR make you tired because you wonder if you have anything else to give. Let me explain.

Typically, when things are not running smoothly or not going well, someone will step up and suggest a way to improve. You can take a different approach, you can offer different program ideas, or you can streamline processes. When progress is not happening, it is easy to see that changes need to be made.

However, when things are going well, we have a tendency to keep doing what we are doing. We get into a routine and we stay there because, well…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Why look to change anything when everything is great?

The intent behind the “What If there is more?” question is to keep us on a constant quest to become better at what we do. The Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Improvement describes it in terms of their “Assess, Plan, Improve” cycle. If we are consistently gauging our progress and implementing plans for improvement, even when we are doing well, the ultimate beneficiaries will be our students.

This is more of a mindset than it is a to-do list.

It is an awareness of who or what we might be able to connect to our program. Who are people in our community that have something to offer our students? What businesses or organizations can we partner with, and in what way? What activities do our students enjoy and how can we expand on those? What programs would our students like to have that we currently do not offer? How can we connect more students and families to what we are doing in our program?

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Begin to ask yourself the questions about improving your program, and not just when you are there with the students, but when you are at the grocery store or driving around town or talking with someone at a meeting. Changing your mindset to consistently focus on improvement can have amazing results. Especially when things are already going well.

What If you can change their world?

 

brad-lademann

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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.

 

 

 

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Sedalia Legislative Roundtable

On November 9, the Missouri AfterSchool Network and Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri hosted the final legislative roundtable event of the year.

Held at the Fox Theater Event Space in downtown Sedalia, the roundtable was a great success, bringing together local legislatures, afterschool champions, and policymakers. In attendance were representatives from Sen. Roy Blunt and Sen. Claire McCaskill’s offices, along with State Senator Sandy Crawford and State Rep. Dan Houx, Boys & Girls Club staff and board members, MASN representatives and Nicole Cooke, the editor of The Sedalia Democrat newspaper. (For the article published in the Sedalia Democrat, click here.)

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The event kicked with a welcome and short speech from Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada, who in addition to being a former Boys & Girls Club kid himself, now sends his two daughters to the afterschool program.

“I had a single working mom growing up and if we didn’t have the Boys & Girls Club available then, our family wouldn’t have been able to function,” La Strada told the crowd. “It kept me on the straight and narrow and allowed me to make a lot of good friends there.”

La Strada also spoke of his daughters, who both attend BGC’s Skyline Elementary Site every day after school and the Club’s Summer Program.

Additional speakers included MASN Executive Director Terri Foulkes and MASN Public Policy and Awareness Committee Chair Colleen Abbott, who both discussed the importance of afterschool programs across the state and funding used by various programs.

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Sedalia 200 School District Superintendent Brad Pollitt also spoke at the roundtable, highlighting the importance of the school district/BGC relationship. He noted the district was the No. 1 in-kind donor to Boys & Girls Club, allowing the use of its facilities for free. Pollitt also mentioned the importance of homework help offered at the Club and his personal favorite program – Smart Girls – which teaches young women the importance of self-confidence and gives life lessons on growing up.

The roundtable was capped off with a visit to The CLUB – Boys & Girls Clubs’ middle school and junior high site – where visitors were able to see programs in action, including cooking and robotics. 

Saint Louis Lights On Afterschool 2017

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State funding for afterschool programs, college readiness trips to Harvard and MIT, and teaching respect and discipline through martial arts were just a few of the sites and stories at the St. Louis Afterschool Roundtable hosted last week by the Jennings School District and the Missouri Afterschool Network. School board member and city councilman, Terry Wilson, served as emcee and the local host. Other Jennings school board members and local superintendents, joined Wilson and state policymakers to celebrate Lights On Afterschool, hear about the importance of afterschool programs, and witness firsthand programming in action.

The event was kicked off by the Jennings singers who participate in the afterschool program. Jennings Superintendent Dr. Art McCoy highlighted some of the afterschool Beta Club members. These high school students shared their experiences including a college visit to Harvard, MIT, and other Ivy League schools; their mentoring and internship experiences; and their animation and STEM programs they participate in at the afterschool program.

“Health and education are what lead to a thriving life and a bright future,” Councilman Wilson explained as the opportunities afterschool programs provide to students were highlighted by students.

Terri Foulkes, Director, and Colleen Abbott, Public Policy & Awareness Chair, from the Missouri AfterSchool Network shared information about the Network and what current policies are supporting afterschool programs in Missouri. These funding sources include the 21CCLC Program, the various programs funded through the Child Care Development Fund, including child care subsidies, the School Age Community grant program, and the Out of School Time Partnerships, which includes the ARCHS program in St. Louis.

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Local school district officials from Jennings, Ferguson-Florissant, and St. Louis Public Schools shared the different ways the afterschool programs positively impact their schools and communities. Dr. Joycelyn Pugh-Walker, Director of Federal Programs explained the impact of afterschool programs in the Ferguson-Florissant district. “We keep the lights on afterschool through our community partnerships.” As a part of the 21st CCLC grant, afterschool programs work with the community partners. In the Ferguson-Florissant district, these partnerships are key to the program success.

These community partnerships are also a highlight for the St. Louis Public School District. “Every moment a child is awake is an opportunity – we recognize the incredible opportunities for our kids afterschool,” stated Deputy Superintendent Stacy Clay. SLPS afterschool programs partner with the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the St. Louis Science Center to provide programs for students. “Afterschool is the perfect marriage between having fun and being creative and they also do serious learning.”

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In addition to learning opportunities, afterschool programs provide a safe place for kids while families are working. To share this perspective, parent Semaja Smith and her daughter, from Fairview Intermediate, discussed the great value of their afterschool program to their family and all the opportunities the program offers that students would otherwise not have.

Carron Johnson, whose son attends an afterschool program through Neighborhood Houses, shared how vital the afterschool program is for her as she is a teacher at another district. Johnson cited multiple times when she would not have a place for her son to go while she works. The program provides peace of mind for this working mother and engages her son with learning opportunities to grow and develop in a variety of ways.

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Finally, State Representative and Afterschool Champion Michael Butler (District 79) described the positive impact of his afterschool programs in his youth. “The demand is great, and we must make certain each student has the opportunity for afterschool programming.” Butler also encouraged his fellow state legislators to take up the charge to find state funding for afterschool programs and for all in attendance to contact their legislators.

Representative Butler was joined by State Senator Gina Walsh and State Representatives Cora Faith Walker and Tommie Pierson, Jr. and Jennings Mayor Yolanda Fountain-Henderson to tour Fairview’s program. Guests enjoyed demonstrations from FIRST FLL robotics, martial arts, and a variety of STEM and other Lights On Afterschool activities.

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MASN will host another roundtable event in the Sedalia area on November 9th.

For more information, contact Terri  Foulkes at foulkest@missouri.edu,

or (573) 884-2936. 

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November brings THANKS for AfterSchool

With the holiday season nearing, we should give thanks for the afterschool programs which foster growth and learning for more than 135,000 kids in Missouri! Afterschool programs provide an outlet for creative energy, time to spend with friends, personal safety, and food students can count on. 

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Legislative Advocacy in November

With the end of the semester and a month-long winter break coming up, we should remember the role that afterschool plays in providing food security for students in Missouri. Afterschool programs often provide snacks to kids who may not otherwise have access and could act as the student’s last meal of the day. Often, afterschool programs play a crucial role in the lives of the most vulnerable students, and food is one of many aspects of well-being that affect academic performance and future goals. In addition to nutrition, a safe learning environment, freedom to express themselves, and community mentors allow students to envision a successful future. 

Reach out to your representatives in Congress to talk about the many positives of afterschool programs, and the way afterschool provides wellness for your child.

Activities for Youth and Parents

During the season of thanks, make sure your afterschool professionals know they are important. For an activity with your child, brainstorm how afterschool plays a positive role in our lives, and explain the power of showing gratitude and making people feel appreciated. Take the time to write a card or letter, draw a picture, or even just say thank you. A little time and care go a long way!

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Local Advocacy in November

Invite your local representatives to your program’s fall holiday events! Lights On Afterschool went great, and we’re looking forward to continuing the connections we started by introducing your congressmen and women to the sites, programs, and students themselves! If you have a fun fall activity planned, let them know! We would be happy to help coordinate a visit.

If you aren’t sure who your site representative is, use these search tools to find out: http://senate.mo.gov and http://house.mo.gov

Also, if your program had a blast during Halloween or Thanksgiving, send us stories and pictures! We want to feature you on social media!

Share your afterschool story here!

Staying Connected via Social Media

For a summary of Missouri Lights On Afterschool events, follow our Missouri Afterschool Advocate blog! We are posting photos, testimonials, highlights of the events and ways to get keep up with your legislators.

Use #thankfulforafterschool on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share your stories of afterschool in the Season of Thanks!

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

Upcoming Dates to Remember

This Month:

11/9/2017 MASN Quarterly Meeting

11/23/2017 Fall Break

Next Month:

12/8/2017 Congressional Budget Deadline

What If Wednesday: What do you do?

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What If you do more than just “work with kids”?

When you meet someone new and the inevitable question of “What do you do?” comes up, what is your answer? Do you give them a simple answer of “I work in an afterschool program”? Do you try to explain how you give kids a safe place to go when school is out, how you give them healthy snacks that might not be available at home, how you help them with homework and tutor them, and how you provide enrichment opportunities that are not accessible during the regular school day?

How are you supposed to explain all you do for children in out of school time?

You should tell your new acquaintance you are a champion for children.

The word “champion” comes from the Latin word campionem which means gladiator. As a noun, the word is defined as someone who fights for a cause. As a verb, it is to protect or fight for something. Either way, it is what we do in our role as afterschool professionals.

We, as afterschool professionals and as champions for children, fight for the best for our kids. We believe in them. We encourage them to achieve more than what they think they are capable of. We push for funding and for resources so we can provide activities that expand the horizons of children. We fight for space (though not physically, we hope!). We protect our kids as much as we can from those who are less encouraging and who would put them down. We champion the cause of kids in out of school time.

We get to do all of this, every day, in our afterschool programs.

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Kids need someone to walk beside them and say, “You can do it”. They need people who are consistent in their world. They need someone who will stand up for them and advocate for their hopes and dreams.

I came across an anonymous quote this week and I think it fits here.

“When people ask me, ‘What do you do?’, I say ‘Whatever it takes.’”

What If you do whatever it takes to become a champion for your students and your program?

 

brad-lademann

_______________________________________________________

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.

Guest Blog: Social Media and You(r Program)

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I should probably start this post by telling you that I sort of fell into my role as Communications Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri.

Previously I was a reporter for a few community newspapers and while I loved social media as much as the next person, I didn’t use it regularly in my professional role.

That changed when I started working for the Club and my main job became overseeing all marketing efforts to promote our 11 Boys & Girls Club sites in the six communities we serve. As my role expanded to include other duties, I noticed our social media sites were expanding too. Today, we rely on our sites more and more to connect with parents, board members, supporters, donors, and colleagues to inform them about what’s going on at the Club. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way that may be useful for your own afterschool programs.

Judge your time truthfully.

If your program is anything like mine, many employees wear many hats and I’m guessing it’s just one or two employees doing the heavy lifting on your social media sites. Posting takes time and content and I see quite a few organizations that seem to want to do it all and end up having so-so pages in the process. I really urge you to think very hard about what you can actually manage and then make that page great. For us, that means Facebook and Twitter because that’s where our parents, teachers, and supporters are.

Another thing to consider is how you’re going to stay consistent. Have you ever been to a website or Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in months? It’s better to update regularly than post a ton of updates/photos all at once. If you have a lot of content and can post every day, great! If you’d rather post every other day or just twice a week, that’s OK too. Just make sure you’re posting regularly.planning-2573116_960_720.png(Facebook and Twitter both have great options to schedule posts to make this easier. Check out their “help” sections to more on this.)

Think about your audience.

For most afterschool providers, our social media audience is primarily parents of the kids we serve and teachers/administrators in our districts. Those of us who rely on community support should also consider the donors, partners and board members (if applicable) who help make our program run. Think about what posts would be most important to them, what do they want to see?

You can also have the best and most updated social media site but it won’t do much good unless someone is looking at it. On Facebook, for example, I know that 8 p.m. sees a spike of our audience who are logged on. Therefore, I schedule all my posts to publish at that time, giving the posts a better chance to be seen. The “insights” tab on Facebook is a great resource to learn everything about your audience.

Consider the information.

Photos of smiling kids having fun and learning are the bread and butter of afterschool program posts – as they should be. But instead of just a photo and short caption, consider adding a little more information to give your audience the whole picture.

For example, if I posted a few photos of Club members working in our garden, I might caption it with “These Boys & Girls Club members are learning how fruits and vegetables go from seed to table – and the hard work it takes to get them there! When they harvest these cucumbers later in the summer they’ll learn a few simple recipes that can show them how delicious fresh vegetables can be, putting them on a lifetime path of healthy eating.”

Instead of a photo just showing kids weeding a garden, I can explain how this program benefits them in a long-term way.

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Ignore all this advice as needed.

To be really honest, at the end of the day I’m sort of just winging it with social media. One of the great (and annoying) things about social media is that it’s always changing, so keep it loose and fun. See what posts your audience likes, shares and comments on and continue doing that until you need to change it again.

I also recommend following other afterschool program social media pages and shamelessly “borrowing” their good ideas. We’re all about sharing our best practices for our afterschool programs, social media should be no different.

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Emily-Jarrett

 

Guest Blogger: Emily Jarrett, Communications Director of Boys and Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri

You can shamelessly steal her social media ideas by following the Club on Facebook and Twitter.

October is for Lights On Afterschool!

Click here to download a PDF version of this blog.

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The month has finally arrived- Lights On Afterschool will be celebrated throughout the country on October 26th! In Missouri, afterschool programs will host events to highlight the value of afterschool for our local communities.

Legislative Advocacy in October

Last month in Washington DC, Congress worked on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, appropriating funds to afterschool and rebuffing President Trump’s proposal to cut federal programming entirely.

These appropriations included provisions for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Child Care and Development Block Grants, Full Service Community Schools, and more (check out a fuller list here). While the House and the Senate proposed different levels of funding for the programs, both showed strong support and maintained or increased funding from FY 2017.

As it stands, the budget debate has been pushed back to December 8th after a deal was struck to ensure federal funding for hurricane victims. We will keep you updated as the funding process moves forward on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.

Finally, while the Senate and House Appropriations Committees have shown their support for afterschool programming, the Afterschool Alliance reports that for every child in an afterschool program, two more are waiting to get in. Our advocacy and outreach efforts must stay strong, so that our members of Congress know that Afterschool Works in Missouri! 

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Local Advocacy in October

Lights On Afterschool is a great way to raise awareness for your program and to share personal stories about what your program means to the youth and families you serve. Be sure to send invitations as soon as possible to local, state, and federal leaders, community partners, and parents, so they can attend and see the great work happening every day in your program.

Visit the Afterschool Alliance website to register your Lights On event and view their toolkit for making your event a success. You can also use this Legislator Lookup Tool to find your local legislators to invite to your program’s event.

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Activities for Youth and Parents

Make sure youth and parents are engaged in whatever activities you have planned for Lights On. Youth should be given a chance to help plan your events and showcase what they are doing in your program. It also presents a great opportunity to engage parents in your work by having them share their afterschool stories.

Use our Lights On Printable graphic at your events to capture why the parents and youth in your programs value afterschool and be sure to share via social media!

Staying Connected via Social Media

To coincide with Lights On Afterschool in Missouri, we are asking you to take to social media and share why afterschool is important to you!

You can do this in two ways:

  • by writing and posting your afterschool story or
  • by taking photos with your personal message on this Lights On Printable graphic You can also engage parents, youth, other afterschool professionals, school leaders, community partners, and policymakers by having them participate.

Share both using the #MOLightsOn hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! When you post using our hashtag, you’re showing support to friends, family, and followers and can even be featured on our blog!

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

Upcoming Dates to Remember

This Month:

10/26/2017: Lights On Afterschool

10/31/2017: Halloween

Next Month:

11/16 – 11/19/2017: MOSAC2 PDI in Kansas City

11/23/2017: Thanksgiving