S&S Worldwide sponsored the National Afterschool Association Next Generation Award for Afterschool for 2017, and we are very proud of all of the nominees and winners! This is a great opportunity to highlight these afterschool professionals and the dedication they have to their programs.
Here is Andrew Fletcher’s journey as a 21st Century Community Learning Center Professional:
I first applied to work for a 21st CCLC program seven years ago while attending Idaho State University. I was simply looking for a part-time job to help pay for college tuition and expenses, which I thought an aide for an alternative Jr. High afterschool program was a good fit. What I didn’t know at the time was that I had found my passion and my career. I always had an interest working with youth so it was a perfect fit.
The program administration was impressed by my story and passion, so they offered me the position as Center Coordinator. I spent my time providing students homework help, college visits and various enrichment activities. Like so many other afterschool professionals, I struggled with student engagement, behavior issues, attendance and reporting. However, I dug into the afterschool literature and research, relying heavily on best-practices from the field. I really enjoyed building relationships and having discussions about afterschool. There was also so much to learn through reading and researching.
I spent many sleepless nights wondering how I could better engage and connect with youth. Many hours were spent watching YouTube videos and popular teenage TV shows. I kept up with pop culture and slang so I could relate with youth.
As my experience and knowledge of the afterschool field grew, I advanced to Program Director. This opened up a whole new world of challenges, opportunities and areas for growth. During this time as Program Director, I realized my purpose in afterschool: help other passionate afterschool educators improve program quality and engage students. I saw a need for professional development for afterschool, so I started providing training and workshops to other programs throughout my region.
Before long I was providing workshops throughout the state. I focused on developing STEM programs, building student engagement and relationships, incorporating technology, creating a SAFE environment, and hiring quality staff.
Last December, I became the Idaho 21st CCLC State Coordinator. Now I am busy spending my time providing technical assistance to subgrantees to ensure programs throughout Idaho are of high quality and supported.
I am a part of the National Institute of Out School Time’s National Afterschool Matters Fellowship, which allows me to connect with other afterschool professionals in different states to help build the literature and case for afterschool programs. I appreciate the focus of practitioner-research to help advance the field. I also participate in a technical work group on summer learning programs to help establish best-practice and research. I am a strong advocate for the importance to establish professional learning communities.
The impact I hope to make in this world is that I helped people come together for the better of our youth. Sharing in each other’s joy, struggles and frustrations is how we will learn and grow. We need that relationship building and that community in the afterschool field.
My personal story may be one reason my passion for afterschool is so strong. I came from a very similar background as many of the youth we work with in afterschool. Just the opportunity to be a positive adult role model to some of these kids makes it all worth it. Growing up, I came from a single-parent household with four siblings. By the time I graduated high school I had lived in four different states and attended twelve different schools. It was hard growing up and moving around a lot. It seemed like I never really got the opportunity to be a part of a group or build a solid foundation because I would move. Moving around also made it easy for me and my siblings to fall through the cracks.Which almost fhappened my last semester of senior year when I found out I was one credit shy to graduate. My transcripts were a little messed up because of so many transfers. My guidance counselor gave me two options: drop out and get my GED or repeat the twelfth grade.
A community educator heard my story and reached out. He told me that another organization offered a high school one credit night class. This out-of-school time credit opportunity enabled me to graduate on time. The community educator also helped me develop a plan for post-secondary school and scholarship writing. I am now a first generation college graduate. This program changed the course of my life. And now I see this huge out-of-school time field that has the power to reach kids on so many more levels. I am grateful to be a part of it all and contribute to student success.
Andrew Fletcher was nominated for the 2017 National Afterschool Association Next Generation Award by 11 diffferent colleagues! Here are some of the praise they had for him:
“If you’ve ever been in a presentation with Andrew, he dresses up as superheroes and Star Wars characters…for adults! His passion and charisma is even more amplified for youth in afterschool programs.” – Evan Reyne, Digital Marketing Manager, Redstone Residential
“I have known and worked with Andrew for the past 5 years. He is constantly striving to be innovative in the way he teaches, directs, and leads. He has taken after school in our state [Idaho] to the next level with his commitment and passion.” – Karl Gehmlich, 21st CCLC Director, Sugar-Salem School District
“Andrew has been involved in after school programs from the bottom to the top. He started as staff, director and is now at the state level. He has brought ideas to the state level that are beneficial and effective for the subgrantees.” – Kim Griglack, 21st CCLC Director, City of Montpelier
To learn more about the National Afterschool Association (NAA) visit naaweb.org. We proudly support their mission and dedication to the afterschool community.
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.
About the Author:
Andrew Fletcher has been involved with 21st Century Community Learning Centers for the last seven years: frontline staff, program director and state coordinator. He is currently the 21st CCLC state coordinator for Idaho and oversees all the programs within the state. He loves the challenge and opportunities to create change and advocate for afterschool on a state level. Fletcher has Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and English – Professional Writing. He is currently working on a secondary teaching certificate in English and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. He is a member of the National Afterschool Matters Fellowship, a You 4 Youth Summer Learning Program Initiative and Idaho Afterschool Network’s Quality & Professional Development Leader. Fletcher is passionate about creating unforgettable moments through science demonstration for youth. He also spends free time running and blogging about his experiences in afterschool (https://idahoafterschoolguy.com/).