Thank you for always caring! – An Ode for Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week

by Brad Lademann, Associate Director of Quality Initiatives, Missouri AfterSchool Network


Afterschool professionals, you are loved and appreciated.

Not everyone can do what you do. You know that, don’t you?

Your job requires multiple layers of talents, skills, and abilities, many of which are not recognized until someone else steps in and does not have the necessary skillset.

Who else needs to be able to exercise the controlled part of “controlled chaos” without squashing the chaos that often accompanies active learning environments? You make it look easy.

Lots of people lack the ability to engage a group of second graders and walk them through a STEM activity without losing their attention, but not you.

Not everyone can coordinate and execute the systematic movement of children and youth from one activity to another and still keep a fun, engaging atmosphere. You can.

What if there is a health crisis and all the schools and afterschool programs are shut down for in-person learning? Who is going to step into that gap? You are, afterschool professionals, along with your school districts and your community partners.

Programs like the Dawg Pound in Dixon, MO don’t miss a beat when their students aren’t attending because of a virus that has confined us all to our homes. The staff of the Dawg Pound program have been manning homework hotlines, creating exercise videos, setting up virtual enrichment activities for students, and have been helping parents navigate the technology that students are now using for school at home.

The STRIPES 360 Program at the Republic, MO school district stepped in to provide care and enrichment for the children of essential workers, working diligently to keep the children, and their staff, safe and healthy.

The Moving Ahead program in Columbia, MO, which is only one among many, provides opportunities for staff to read aloud to their students, whether live on social media or on recordings posted to program websites.

Countless programs across Missouri are sending handwritten notes, creating videos, and making phone calls to students and families to check in and to offer encouragement. They make sure to let the students know that the staff is missing them and are excited for their return to the program.

Across the board, afterschool professionals are working to make certain that their students are maintaining the positive connections they have with caring adults. These connections are what will help afterschool staff smooth the transition for students headed back to school when our lives return to “normal”.

Flexibility has always been a foundational trait found in afterschool programs. During this COVID-19 crisis, afterschool professionals, you have been amazing.

What you do is not done for recognition or fame. You don’t get into this field for the money. You do what you do for the love of the kids.

What you do matters.

You are not “just someone who works in an afterschool program”. You are afterschool professionals and you are loved and appreciated.

We see you.

Thank you for all you do for our kids.

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