By Chasidy Celestine, 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.
I am a proud supporter and product of afterschool programs. Growing up, my mother worked after the school bell and needed a safe, secure place for us to attend afterschool. Thankfully, she was intentional in finding programs that included diversity in students, afterschool activities, summer camps and fieldtrips. These experiences with afterschool enrichment centers and programs gave me exposure to places, people and activities I would not have received otherwise. For example, one of the greatest influences of afterschool for me was being apart of dance team in high school. As someone who had no formal dance training, I learned the skills necessary to be a great dancer and compete in local and state dance competitions. Being a part of dance afterschool gave me a sense of belonging, built my self-esteem and reinforced the importance of building relationships and physical health.
My professional afterschool journey started in college. I was hired as a youth development specialist for the Boys and Girls club. My primary responsibility was to oversee and create fun and engaging activities for after school-age youth. I had boys and girls of every age group, and I enjoyed working with each group and tailoring activities to fit their needs. I fell in love with the job and the kids alike. Once I graduated, I became a teacher’s assistant at an early childhood and afterschool enrichment center, Young Leaders. At this facility, I had access to materials and technology that would broaden the scope of student enrichment overall. As a teacher, I had fun engaging and creating cool activities with the students, but I became very interested in the idea of providing the same level of resources and enrichment activities for kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. I enjoyed the joys and the challenges of working with kids, but I wanted a career that would allow me to be a resource to students that didn’t have equal access to opportunities. This is where my passion for enrichment programs that drive positive youth outcomes, close learning gaps, and impact character development began.
In 2014, I officially entered the afterschool administrative world as a Promotions Intern for Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids). As an intermediary, CASE for Kids provides resources, trainings and funding for afterschool programs in schools, child care facilities and community centers that serve students in grades Pre-K through 12. Today, I am a Program Coordinator. Through my work, I allocate CASE for Kid’s services by connecting with local organizations and service providers so that we can provide high quality out-of-school time opportunities for kids. In addition, I perform program evaluations, and coach other out-of-school time professionals locally and nationally through fun, creative workshops. All my workshops encourage student voice, engagement and planning-and-refection time, with resources available to all students.
This is not the end of my work in afterschool. I truly believe that afterschool gives youth a sense of belonging while teaching about the importance of teamwork, communication, responsibility, critical thinking and enhanced academic and enrichment skill. I plan to do more in the years to come to further the field. I am dedicated to providing youth with opportunities that will lead to success. I am so excited about being selected as NAA’s 30 under 30. I’ve been a part of the afterschool world since I was a child, and now as a professional. To receive an award highlighting the work that I contribute to the afterschool field, fortifies my passion to be a resource to youth and my community and it is a true honor.
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 supports their mission and dedication to the afterschool community.
About the Author:
Chasidy Celestine, 27, is a Houston Native. She currently works as a Program Coordinator at Harris County Department of Education, CASE for Kids. She has over 5 years of experience in the afterschool world and has trained over 300 afterschool professionals at local, state, and national conferences through her creative trainings and as a certified Youth Work Methods by David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program quality. Chasidy also serves as a board member for a non-profit in her community. She earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Stephen F. Austin University and a Master’s in Public Administration from Texas Southern University. She looks forward to continuing her education in the near future. In her spare time, she likes to travel, shop, and hang out with family and friends. Her passion in life, is to be a resource to the youth in her community and ultimately make a difference in the world we live in.