April 25-29 is Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week (APAW), which recognizes and advocates for individuals who work with youth during out-of-school time.
For the first time in its history, Harris County Department of Education’s (HCDE) Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids) hired its own team of site coordinators funded by the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Texas ACE Cycle 11 grant. Site coordinators work closely with campus administration to ensure their afterschool programs are fully operational and maximize afterschool enrichment.
In honor of APAW, site coordinators Maria Adeoti and Chuntania Moore shed light on the “heart of afterschool.” We also speak with CASE for Kids Director Lisa Caruthers, Ph.D., who expresses gratitude to her devoted team.
Why is afterschool learning and enrichment meaningful?
MA: “It provides enrichment and development opportunities for our kids and young adults beyond the traditional school day curriculum. It provides a safe and supervised place for our kids to explore interests and learn new skills and allows students to spend time with their peers. Afterschool programs are an essential resource that helps prevent juvenile crimes, foster connection, and improve academic performance.”
What would you consider one of your successes in your afterschool program this year?
CM: “This will be my only year with this group of youngsters [since the campus only has sixth-grade students], but I have built a great rapport with my kids and parents in the program. Students need to have positive and productive interactions with their peers and adult role models. Afterschool enrichment programs create an outlet for students to pursue friendships and lifelong meaningful connections with those around them in a fun and exciting yet enriching environment.”
What makes Maria Adeoti and Chuntania Moore valuable members of the CASE 21st Century Cycle 11 team?
LC: “Chuntania and Maria’s dedication to their schools and programs and positive outlooks are invaluable. Maria worked in Alief ISD for over 20 years before her current role. Her relationships within the district helped establish the afterschool program at Killough Middle School. Maria’s passion for uplifting her students and families and love for the work are reflected in the relationships she’s built and maintained on campus. Chuntania has dedicated over 25 years to our-of-school-time programs and brings a wealth of knowledge and strategies to the team and students at Galena Park ISD’s Cobb Sixth Grade Campus. She is always willing to offer her expertise and knowledge in the afterschool field to advance the work of our programs.”
What does a successful site coordinator embody?
LC: “A successful site coordinator is a goal-orientated collaborator who clearly articulates their responsibilities and vision for their program to district administrators, campus staff, families, and community partners. They set their benchmarks to measure progress and know how to delegate, hold themselves and their staff accountable, act decisively, and be patient and flexible while planning a fun and safe program for students and families.”
Why do you think Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week is important?
LC: “CASE staff, afterschool site coordinators, and out-of-school time service providers are all working diligently to help youth stay safe and engaged in learning and support working families during a critical timeframe. This week is a small but important way to say thank you!”