By Stacy McEachern, National Afterschool Association Next Generation Award 2018 Nominee
The S&S Worldwide team is proud to be the sponsor of the National Afterschool Association Next Generation Award for Afterschool for 2018. We are honored to highlight the nominees and winners for their accomplishments and dedication to the afterschool community.
My name is Stacy McEachern and I am currently the Assistant Director at Beacon Cove Intermediate in Jupiter, Florida. I began working there after graduating high school in 2009. I started out as a counselor, and at the time I had no idea this job would lead me to a lifelong career path. My passion grew from not only enriching the youths’ lives I worked with everyday, but also to improving the overall quality of how my OST (Out of School Time) program functions. Beacon Cove is partners with Prime Time Palm Beach County, so I have always been directly involved with their methods of enhancing afterschool programming, as well as understanding why it is so integral to other programs everywhere.
Our school is an intermediate school, which means we only cater to third through fifth grade students. We have a sister school down the street that houses kindergarten through second grade. Each year when we get our new third grade students, I pride myself in helping them transition into Beacon Cove. These young students need meticulous care and attention to foster good social and emotional growth at their new, bigger school. I love having the opportunity to teach, mentor, and guide these students throughout the school year. When starting the year off, I hold a separate staff meeting dedicated in helping staff to understand what goes into SEL development and ways to incorporate the five main components that make up the basis of what young people need to succeed in life.
As a third grade counselor, I have my group go over monthly planning sessions where we pick a focus point to work off of such as: STEM, multicultural, food, art, historian, SPARKS, environmental, humanitarian, etc. We use Word Webbs for ideas of what can be accomplished within that month based on the ideas that we write down. I feel that by doing this, I have given my students the opportunity to explore realms that they may not ever get a chance to discover in the classroom setting. When you give a student the power to create their own learning curriculum, you see greater student participation and positive peer interactions. It is one of the most rewarding feelings to be apart of the mastering of new skills. It is also great to see a young person’s creative intelligent mind grasp and excel beyond what anyone could have imagined. Being a direct influence in this amazing growth of these young people’s lives is why I love what I do.
Professional Development – Going Above and Beyond
Working in the OST field is important to me because it has a huge impact on the overall community. Students in the program get to interact with many different community organizations throughout the year. I help to ensure staff attend valuable professional development trainings throughout the school year which promotes all of us to be better than we were yesterday. For this reason, our program’s staff plays a very significant role in the relationships that are built with our students and the degree of excellence in which we execute our curriculum. Aside from staff’s training requirements, I am also responsible for lesson plan quality, daily scheduling, parent involvement and communication, clubs that are run through our program, managing my own group in the afternoons, and many more odd jobs. I enjoy the constant organized chaos of having to juggle so many different responsibilities simultaneously.
My true passion this school year, however, is to learn how to become a more effective OST staff/practitioner trainer. Having this as my goal has had a major impact on the lives of my students because I believe they are receiving a higher quality experience with their counselors through the tailored training methods I use to coach them to greatness. It takes a village to manage 300 plus students on a day-to-day basis, so teaching my colleagues fundamental ways to enhance their job performance is my mission for them this year. Staff professional development is the beating heart of a successful OST program and having the chance to inspire my fellow colleagues is what has encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
S&S Worldwide is also committed to the career development and support of our afterschool professionals. We have partnered with the NAA to bring quality online courses to the industry. You can find them at our S&S Worldwide Online School.
To learn more about the National Afterschool Association (NAA) visit naaweb.org. We proudly support their mission and dedication to the afterschool community.
More About the Author
I am a South Florida native and love being outside, especially canoeing down the Loxahatchee river or hiking through local nature preserves. I have an amazing support system of family and friends who I admire and am thankful for. Working with people to help make a difference in their lives is what drives me to be a better person day in and day out. I am compassionate about what I do and dedicated to always learning, loving, and living with a smile on my face.
Email: [email protected]