As Chasidy Celestine accepts the 2018 Next Generation of Afterschool award given by the National Afterschool Association, she reflects on her own teenage afterschool experiences and how they helped shape the confident professional she is today.
The afterschool dance group she joined gave her a sense of belonging, built her self-esteem, reinforced the importance of physical health and helped her build relationships. At 27, she is confident about impacting the next generation through her work in afterschool as one of the national “30 awardees under age 30.” Celestine earned the award amid a field of more than 100 young afterschool leaders throughout the nation.
The Memorial City resident is program coordinator for Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, or CASE for Kids. Through her job, she coaches other out-of-school time professionals throughout Harris County via workshops she leads. She is proudest of her customized science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workshops which use everyday household items. All her workshops encourage student voice, engagement and planning-and-refection time.
As an afterschool intermediary, CASE for Kids provides resources, trainings and funding for students in grades pre-k through 12 in afterschool programs in schools, child care facilities and community centers. As a branch of Harris County Department of Education, the division was founded in 1999 with a goal to keep kids safe, help working families and improve academic achievement.
“Chasidy is very passionate about being a resource to youth and her community,” said CASE for Kids Director Lisa Thompson-Caruthers. “We are so proud that she is being recognized for the work she contributes to the afterschool field through her job as resource coordinator. She connects Harris County organizations and service providers so that we can provide high quality out-of-school time opportunities for kids.”
Celestine grew up in Alief, earned a bachelor’s in journalism at Stephen F. Austin University and gained a master’s in public administration from Texas Southern University. While in college, she volunteered in afterschool programs and gained a job as youth involvement coach. She has worked for HCDE’s CASE for Kids three-plus years.
“Afterschool gives youth a sense of belonging, teamwork, communication, responsibility, critical thinking and enhanced academic and enrichment skills,” she said. “Afterschool gave me exposure to places, people and activities I would not have otherwise received.”
Celestine will be featured in an upcoming issue of the National Afterschool Association’s AfterSchool Today magazine and will be recognized at the NAA national conference.
About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE provides special education, therapy services, early education, adult education and after-school programming. Services are funded by government grants, fees and a local property tax rate of $.005195. For every dollar in local property tax collected, HCDE provides $4.40 in services to the 25 Harris County school districts. HCDE also operates four campuses for students with profound special education needs and adjudicated youth who require a low student-teacher ratio and highly structured environment. One-hundred percent of students served on HCDE campuses are at-risk. The organization is governed by an elected board of seven trustees and has 1,060 employees and 33 facilities, including 15 Head Start centers. More info at www.hcde-texas.org.