April 17, 2020

We See You | Notes from UAN

By The UAN Team |  

We are so moved by all that you do to support, love, and teach the youth in your afterschool programs. During this uncertain and difficult time, you continue to work with Utah’s youth with dedication and ingenuity. We see you, we appreciate you, and we thank you for all that you do.

Now more than ever, I am in awe of all you do and the dedication you have for the youth you serve. While you may not all be in physical programs, we still see you! We see you lying in bed at night wondering if all of your kids had a good dinner. We see you attending webinars to learn how to serve kids virtually while you cannot be with them physically. We see you mulling over ideas as you brew your pot of coffee. We see you light up with excitement when you try a new game on Zoom and it works. We see you helping with math homework in new ways. We see you staying the dedicated professionals you are, allowing no virus or distance to come between you and your passion for serving children every day! - Katie Acheson, Out-of-School Time Specialist 

We are living amidst a situation many have never seen before and are in new territory when it comes to afterschool programming. There is a lot of anxiety looming that largely stems from uncertainty, but amidst this pandemic, I am amazed to see the strength of you, our afterschool providers, and how you continue to find the good amongst all this misfortune. 

It is incredible to see you explore new ideas of providing virtual learning and enrichment programming to help youth feel connected and helping meet their individual needs. We know this task has not been an easy one and we cannot express our gratitude enough for what you do to support Utah’s youth. 

To remind you that you have what it takes to remain steadfast in these times, remember these words by Canadian Novelist Robertson Davies, “Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it.” I am grateful to stand amongst you and am proud to be called an afterschool professional. Thank you! - Chaz Pounder, Out-of-School Time Specialist 

Afterschool professionals have always been some of the most adaptive and creative team players I’ve known. I should have anticipated that all of that would still ring true, or even more so, in a time of crisis. For every adapted lesson plan, family phone call, toilet paper delivery, and virtual training - THANK YOU! This uncertain world is a better place with you in it. - Amberley Motz, Professional Learning Systems Coordinator 

One thing that I’ve always known about my afterschool peeps is that we can roll with the punches wherever and whenever they come. These past few weeks, this has been proven true with so many afterschool professionals around our state and around our country. We are being tested now to see what we are willing to do and how far we are willing to go to provide meaningful interactions with the youth that we’ve created those connections with. From me to you, thank you for your sacrifice, your willingness, and your intentionality in finding ways to create connections to your youth. Your work never goes unnoticed and it’s paying off with the kids that you work with. - Angel Gomez, Out-of-School Time Specialist 

I am constantly amazed by the caring and kind afterschool professionals I’ve met. You work so hard and are so dedicated to helping and serving the youth in your programs. In this time more than ever you have found ways to reach out to your kids and be flexible with all of the crazy twists and turns that life is throwing at us. You recognize the increasing need for kids to feel supported and you have stepped up to the challenge. You truly are wonderful and I am honored to know you. Thank you for the very important work that you do and your positive attitudes towards whatever life brings. - Kristen Knoche, Out-of-School Time Specialist 

Afterschool professionals: A little bit McGuiver and a little bit Mozart. We can give you 8 paperclips, some twine, and a piece of toast and you’ll figure out how to engage a group of kids for hours. We see your creativity. You can calm a group of rowdy 7-year-olds, and you can relate to an anxious 17-year-old, nervous about their first date or a big test. We see your capacity to build trusting relationships. We see your compassion as it is infectious; you build alliances and partnerships by merely talking about the kids you work with and how much you love what you do. I see your impact daily, as my kids come home after a long day at school, somehow feeling refreshed and excited to go back because you helped them build relationships, gave them a voice and helped them feel purpose and passion. We see you and we celebrate all that you do for our kids, our communities, and our future. Thank you. - Ben Trentelman, Director of Operations 

Afterschool folks, you are the best! I find strength in your resilience and compassion, especially during these uncertain times. I see you getting up every day to advocate for your youth and their families, putting their needs first. You amaze me with your ability to take feedback and adjust accordingly, not to mention your willingness to take on new projects, venturing into the unknown. Thanks for being my creative, passionate, and dedicated colleagues working to ensure that all youth in Utah have the best chance to succeed, academically and beyond. Know that there are a lot of people, including myself, cheering you on. - Holly Phillips, School Alignment Specialist 

Afterschool peeps- we know these times are hard and scary and uncertain, but thank you for continuing to work so hard to stay connected with your program kids and their families! Thank you for learning new ways to be there for them. Thank you for helping to provide some form of normalcy and hope for them. They appreciate it and we appreciate it too! Thank you! - Emilie Holdaway, Professional Learning Systems Director

How am I so fortunate to have landed in the afterschool field surrounded by such intelligent, creative, brave, and compassionate professionals? We are aware that most of you are currently experiencing a shift in your work, but please know kids are better off because of you. Let’s collectively leverage this unique opportunity to tell the story of the importance of afterschool in Utah. - Kelly Riding, Executive Director 

I see you, afterschool workers.  I see you who are in an active childcare center, serving kids as safely as you can, while also distracting them from the chaos around you. I see you standing in your backyard talking to your phone’s camera and explaining a workout routine, while neighbors give you weird looks. I also see you not caring, because it’s a video for your kids. I see you at home lesson planning and figuring out how to use a computer to see the kids’ faces so that you will know that they are okay. I see you worried about Billy’s math homework (he always needs help with fractions), Sally’s home life, and whether or not Sarah’s family has food. I see you problem-solving, like only afterschool professionals can, to make your kids feel loved and supported no matter how much the world tosses and turns. How can we not appreciate such wonderful people! Thanks for serving these kids! - Elinor Blankenship, Out-of-School Time Specialist 

You are hopeful, compassionate and selfless. I’ve seen it and felt it through your work. I know it’s hard to keep up with the continuous changes in the afterschool field and at home, but I want you to know that I admire you for your resiliency and dedication to the youth and their families throughout the communities across Utah. It is people like you who positively impact the lives of others, and if it weren't for you we'd all be lost. Thank you for all that you do! Keep fighting the good fight! - Erica Andino, Out-of-School Time Specialist