April 19, 2019

Love Letters from UAN

By The UAN Team | 

For this year's Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we wanted to pull together as a team to let you know why we love YOU, the powerhouses from San Juan to Logan that change lives and shape the next generation with energy and patience. We encourage you to celebrate the afterschool professionals and share with them why you appreciate them! 

I’m so glad we have a dedicated week during which we can recognize the important work of afterschool professionals (although we celebrate you every day!). Every job in the afterschool field is critical - school administrators, directors, coordinators, youth development professionals, volunteers, community partners all work hard every day to ensure our Utah kids are not only safe during the afterschool and summer hours, but are engaged in learning, which allows parents to have peace of mind while they are working. Thank you for all you do!!! - Kelly Riding, Executive Director

Thank you to each and every afterschool professional out there that’s talking kids out of trees and band-aiding knees. You embody everything that we, as a society, should expect any common human to do for our children. You are self-sacrificing and committed to the health, safety, and well-being for the children of other people. You are driven by your love for the work you do and the relationships you get to build with the youth you serve. You deserve more than a week, just like any mother deserves more than one special day. I will choose to celebrate you and your contributions every day. Thank you!  - Ben Trentelman, Director of Operations

In a day and age where superheroes dominate the box office, I want to take a moment to recognize some amazing heroes who at times go unnoticed. They may not wear capes or stop crime, but they save the day for young people and families on a regular basis. These heroes are called Afterschool Professionals. To some, these individuals are seen only as suppliers of snacks, games, and provide a cool hang out spot for kids, but they are much more than that. To me, Utah's afterschool professionals are guiding mentors that provide experiences for social-emotional learning, academic support, enrichment, and prevention-focused activities to more than 43,000 of Utah's youth. They work tirelessly to ensure that every child feels loved and inspired and they have an unyielding desire to help these young people fight for and accomplish their dreams. Young people need heroes to look up to more than ever and for thousands of Utah’s youth, Afterschool Providers serve as their Superman. I am grateful for these everyday heroes and can’t thank them enough for their service.  - Chaz Pounder, Out-of-School Time Specialist

A Limerick
by Elinor Blankenship, Out-of-School Time Specialist
To those who fight the best fight,
And love on kids, troubled to spite.
We love what you do,
Be it Arts, STEM or Goo.
To them, you are the best light.

To My People in the Field:
When The Stylistics said “People Make the World Go ‘Round,” what the world didn’t realize is that they were talking about You. You are the one who sacrifices time, emotion, and love in your own life only for it to be returned ten-fold from the people you serve. You make it happen for the people in your community. You are who parents look to when they need support for their children; You are who their children look to when they need someone to talk to and help them through life; You are a part of what makes your community a community. To You, whoever you are, wherever you are: I hope you always remember what you mean to the people around you. Your work is unparalleled, and very few people can do it like you do it, which is what makes you You. Thank You for all You do. – Your supporter, Angel Gomez, Out-of-School Time Specialist 

An Ode to Afterschool Professionals
by Kristen Knoche, Out-of-School Time Specialist

Kids track in mud, it’s all over the place;
One walks in with an untied shoelace.

You laugh to yourself, hand the kids a paper towel roll,
And remind a girl, the bunny goes through the hole.

Program has just begun,
Now it’s time to start the fun!

One kid yells, “Superman” and jumps off his chair,
And today the kids learned that gum sticks in hair.

A ball bounces through the room;
It’s sat on and meets a terrible doom.

In horror and disbelief,
Emotions are not kept brief!

Angie cries, Jessie yells,
Tyler goes and tattle tales.

Time for math and reading;
"No, no," kids are desperately pleading.

“Seven plus two is nine, not ten.
Please stop kicking Aaron, Ben.”

Milk, pretzels, and carrots, what a treat!
(At least they were before they fell on Kylie’s feet.)

At the beginning of art time, paint filled the tray;
That lasted until the kids started to play.

Right now you’re rethinking your career choices;
You’re getting a headache from all the loud voices.

Mary gives you a picture of a dog she made,
And all of a sudden your heart starts to be swayed.

Science time never has been so exciting, so thrilling;
Somehow blue and green slime are now on the ceiling.

Scissors slip when projects are made;
It’s a good thing you brought a band-aid.

Kids run free at the playground;
They jump, skip, hop, and bound.

Kids play with an imaginary creature:
“You’re it! No, I’m not! Teacher! Teacher!”

All tuckered out, kids come in from play;
Time to settle down and call it a day.

As they leave, smiling and laughing with friends,
Goodbyes are said, and then program ends.

It’s never easy, never perfect, and sometimes you may think you’d rather not.
But just remember on those days, for the kids, it means the world. It means a lot.

To all of you Afterschool Heroes: I know some days are rough and you feel like giving up, but I want you to know that you’re a rock for so many of the children and teens you work with. Stay strong and keep advocating for them! They love you and I love you! - Erica Andino, Out-of-School Time Specialist 


A Haiku
by Holly Phillips, School Alignment Specialist

Afterschool hero
Shouts of joy for all you do
Inspiring Utah youth

Happy Afterschool Professionals Week! Every high five, smile, interaction or brief conversation you have with the kids in your program makes a difference in their day. Knowing their kids are in a positive environment after school helps parents stay focused and productive at work. Consistently showing up, being prepared for lessons and activities, and being a team player makes the day-to-day of program run more smoothly. Striving to increase your knowledge by seeking out training opportunities not only helps you practice skills but impacts those you interact with. The work you do is BIG and I appreciate you. - Emilie Holdaway, Professional Learning Systems Director

One of my favorite things about afterschool professionals is their resilience. If ever there was a profession filled with enthusiastic individuals that respectfully don’t take “no” for an answer, it’s afterschool. No idea is too big. No child is too far gone. Ever. Afterschool mentors, professionals, coordinators, and directors alike magnify the idea that where there’s a will, there’s a way. And not only are youth benefiting from the love and support of these afterschool superheroes, but they get to see a first-hand example of resilience and grit right before their very eyes. That’s priceless. - Amberley Motz, Professional Learning Systems Coordinator

Afterschool programs are often the critical fork in the road between a life of catching up and a life of security. They are a safe space. They are a catalyst for expression and blossoming passion. They are often the difference between a lonesome and frightening life of making ends meet and a feeling of belonging and one’s own power.  We are the believers amidst coming-of-age doubt. Yes, afterschool professionals have a lot on their shoulders. From facilitators to organizers, from legislative allies to administrators, we have some work to do. But the future of our kids - the future of our society - is directly impacted by the amazing, committed, and often underappreciated work you do. This week, we celebrate you. And we thank you. - Dallas Thornley, STEM Vista