Tuesday, February 16, 2021

2021: Expectations from Afterschool Leaders

By Sam Piha

Source: jackuldrich.com
In a recent blog we shared responses from afterschool workers on their lessons and take-aways from a turbulent 2020. Below we asked two respected leaders in the afterschool field, Dale Blyth (University of Minnesota) and Stu Semigran (EduCare Foundation), to look forward and share their thoughts regarding 2021. 

Can you name one challenge that we will face in 2021? 

Stu Semigran

"One major challenge will be the essential need for students and staff to reconnect and reestablish their relationships with one another and with their school community as a whole.  We will be faced with how to effectively process all that has taken place... for us individually, within our families, our communities, and our nation.  There will be attention needed on addressing trauma and concerns about learning loss.  There will be a need for deep listening and increased sensitivity to how individuals are doing, along with a boost of vitality, enthusiasm, and a strong sense of purpose as reassuring adults and positive role models." – Stu Semigran

Dr. Dale Blyth
"Uniting the many different parts of the youth sector and community youth programs so that we are able to be both more visible to the community as necessary not just nice and more powerful in creating learning and development opportunities that matter in these challenging times and complement and expand beyond those schools can offer." – Dale Blyth

Can you name one opportunity that you see in 2021? 

"These same challenges can be turned into uplifting and exciting opportunities that are in front of us in afterschool in 2021.  Within EduCare, we are actively developing our "return to school" (3Rs- Reconnect- Reinspire- Reignite learning) model for high school students returning back onto school sites hopefully in early 2021. The intent is to provide essential mental health support and social-emotional skills development while reestablishing a positive school culture that assists students restore themselves, renew their relationships, and step forward into learning." – Stu Semigran   

"I believe learning and development, both how important they are and how hard they are to do intentionally, has dramatically increased as a result of 2020. The opportunity for afterschool in 2021 is to position itself as a viable, valuable and versatile place where such learning and development can and is being done." – Dale Blyth

Source: eenews.net

What do you think we should be thinking about as we look forward to a new presidential administration?

"With the possibility of broader government support for social causes such as afterschool and expanded learning, we need to keep building our collective voices and advocacy for the essential increased funding for expanded learning programs." – Stu Semigran

"I think now is the time to push for a significant children and youth cabinet with a lead "czar" that focuses on what is best for the learning and development of children and youth in America. the type of people and places where real, forward thinking policy and practices might be promoted and resourced. Such a cabinet and czar needs to explicitly recognize and engage families but also child care and youth development programs in the community. A focus on all adults, all settings, and all approaches to learning and development in a strength- based approach." – Dale Blyth

As schools prepare to re-open, afterschool program staff need to consider the experiences of youth who have been away from school and their friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know these vary greatly depending on family income and racial/ ethnic background. What are young people's needs? What should we, as afterschool staff, do to help youth thrive when they return to afterschool programs post COVID? How might we build back school and program culture and a sense of "family" spirit and connection in our afterschool programs? Join Stu Semigran and a panel of afterschool program experts to learn how best to help youth thrive as they return to school and afterschool. To get more information and to register for our next Speaker's Forum, click here.

Stu Semigran is the co-founder and president of EduCare Foundation and the executive director of EduCare’s ACE (Achievement and Commitment to Excellence) Student Success Program. Currently serving more than 45 high schools and middle schools in Southern California, EduCare also is the grant manager for the ASSETs after school programs at 17 LAUSD Beyond the Bell high schools and 1 middle school. Over 30,000 students are served each year through EduCare afterschool and youth development programs.

Dr. Dale Blyth is a senior research consultant and advisor who recently retired as Extension Professor in the College of Education & Human Development at the University of Minnesota where he served as the Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Development Leadership and Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement. For 15 years he served as Associate Dean directing the Center for Youth Development. The Center was home for the Minnesota 4-H Program, the Youth Work Institute, Youth Community Connections (then the statewide Mott network), and conducting applied research and evaluation. Recently he led an initiative to advance social & emotional learning outcomes. He serves on several community, state and national groups related to out of school time, data systems, and youth development.

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