Thursday, January 27, 2011

Welcome Aboard Region 11

C4K welcomes the after-school programs of Region 11 to its web-based staff development program. For those of you not from California, California has a statewide system of support that divides the state into 11 service regions. With the exception of Region 11, multiple counties are united in each region, with one county office designated as the lead. Different counties and different administrators provide the lead for a variety of educational initiatives. Los Angeles County is the only county to also be its own Region. Known as Region 11, Los Angeles County has more after-school programs than any other region in California. Mary Jo Ginty, the Region 11 Lead, provides technical assistance to the over 1,200 programs, 7,200 frontline staff and a contingency of program administrators, which serve thousands of students each day in elementary, middle school, and high school programs.

Because of its size—both geographically and number of programs, Region 11 has been divided into Local Learning Communities (LLCs) based on the proximity of programs to one another. These LLCs come together regularly to share best practices with one another. This system has also created an incubator for emerging County leaders. These leaders come together in an Advisory Team that meets each month. C4K had an opportunity to present the website to this Advisory Team in September, and with the approval of its Advisory Team, the Region is on board to use the C4K web-based services to support staff development across the Region. As individual programs large and small sign up to become part of the C4K family, we at C4K are thrilled with the opportunity to work with such a wide array of after-school programs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Educating After-School Champions

The Afterschool Alliance published the Afterschool Advocate to keep those of us in the world of after-school up to speed about the current state of affairs. The national organization has done much to keep the cause of after-school front and center in national, state, and city politics. In a story in the Afterschool Advocate, (Volume 11, Issue 12) published December 23, 2010, the Alliance published the findings of a recent poll. Following is the information they published.

“Facing the worst economic climate in decades, mayors across the country have made the difficult decision to cut afterschool programs and more, according to a new Reader's Digest/Harris Interactive poll. The purpose of the poll was to discern the level of cutbacks in city services that communities across the country have made as a result of the recession.

According to the poll, 22 percent of mayors said they had already reduced or cancelled afterschool opportunities for children in their communities. Additionally, three out of four mayors said they expect financial challenges to worsen in the coming year, and 39 percent said the worsening will be substantial.

To help communities that are struggling, Reader's Digest is sponsoring "We Hear You America," an online contest offering cities a share of $5 million in funds and promotional support.”

While the desire to balance the budget is understandable, the impact of cutting after-school programs weighs heavily on any community. First of all, people who were working now find themselves unemployed. Although many after-school staff members are part time workers, this part time employment met the needs of that person and/or family, and now they are having to adjust to hundreds of dollars less each month. Secondly, for people who still have a job, having a safe place for children to be in the hours after-school has been replaced by expensive child care or students going home to an empty house. Third, for the youth who attended these cut programs, who will help them complete homework, who will engage them in enrichment activities, and who will encourage them to be physically active. Data tell us that both crimes committed by youth and against youth decrease when neighborhoods are served by after-school programs, which would lead one to believe that these things will increase without the programs, creating a bigger demand on law enforcement.

So what can we do as after-school providers? We can intentionally begin to educate civic leaders by inviting them to our programs, sharing with them the work that we are doing, and connecting them to our students and families. Get a list of the leaders in your community on a city, county, state, and national level, and go to work. When civic leaders are making budget cuts they need to see your program in their mind’s eye so they can realize what is at stake. Write a letter, send an email, call on the phone, invite them to your program. Make this education a part of your every day routine.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Value-Added After-school Programming

We are living in a results-oriented environment. People are happy to listen to the anecdotal stories of youth who have developed confidence, or a skill in dancing or drama, or even those who have developed a core set of character traits. However, decisions are being made on the way that young people are scoring on standardized tests. If we agree with Stephen M. R. Covey, trust is developed in part because an individual has the skills needed to achieve positive results. The question is “are you achieving positive results?”

Surely you want to measure youth development, behavior, leadership and resiliency goals, but you also want your program to make a difference in the academic performance and/or achievement of the students you work with during program. You can look at benchmark scores, homework completion rates, and report cards, but the real indicator of success is certainly standardized test scores in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

After-school cannot be exempt when pressure is being put on teachers to provide value-added performance. Currently teachers in LA have been given performance scores based on how effective they were in boosting student scores in ELA and Math. In an article entitled, “Should a Teacher's Value-added Score Be Made Public?” published in the LA Time on December 10, 2010, the United Federation of Teachers unequivocally says that reporting data about a teacher’s performance score based on standardized test scores is "fundamentally flawed" value-added data, which were found to be inflated and inaccurate." Yet, many in the public want this information published and say that this is because the public must be watchful of how well students are performing academically in school.

Take a look at the students who were in your program last year. Were they more successful than similar students who were not in your program? If a student attends an after-school program for a year, he/she is receiving approximately 540 additional hours of practice time to master grade level skills. This is a large commitment of time and the results should be tangible. Spend some time analyzing the results from last year and then chart a course for this year. Set a goal. Engage staff and students in accomplishing the goal. Establish benchmarks so you can see if you are making a difference along the way. Remember, school performance is a critical part of every student’s day and our job in after-school is to help students be more successful in all aspects of life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome On Board—THINK Together

Consult 4 Kids offers a comprehensive staff development system that can be accessed along as a user has internet access. As a subscriber to the website, users can access Vocational Training and Online Instruction. Vocational Training is a written training (complete with tests, quizzes and exams) designed for frontline staff (program leaders) and site coordinators. The chapters are written to ensure that the reader has some basic understandings of quality programming and exemplary performance, so that time in the field can be spent coaching staff to apply the learning of the training, rather than teaching content for the first time. Online Instruction, in the form of Minis, Modules, Lessons and Classes, are also available in video format and cover the basics as well and can be used as a first teacher, for staff to revisit and review, or as a tutorial to support improved performance. These videos can be viewed individually by staff, or collectively as a starting point for staff meetings and trainings.

While it is apparent why those of us who work at C4K find these materials wonderful, the real proof is in those who view the website and subscribe for the services. C4K proudly welcomes THINK Together staff on board. According to its website, “THINK Together is one of the nation’s largest and leading non-profit providers of after-school and other high-quality out-of-school learning programs. Each year, our talented staff of 1,700 along with hundreds of volunteers serves 70,000 at-risk and low-income students at more than 225 sites across a five-county footprint of Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino & San Diego Counties)”. The website goes on to say, “THINK is an acronym that stands for Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids. And “together” with parents, teachers, school administrators, volunteers and our dedicated staff, we’re helping our students achieve their full potential.”

Additionally, “THINK Together’s dedicated staff and high-quality learning programs have demonstrated they can successfully help students and local schools close the academic achievement gap. A multi-year longitudinal study indicates: in general, students who participate in THINK Together’s after-school learning programs show twice the rate of growth in their California Standards Test (CST) scores as compared to their local peers. Where THINK Together’s after-school programs are intentionally aligned with normal school-day learning, students show even greater rates of growth in their CST scores.”

C4K looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with THINK Together’s program leaders and site coordinators, as well as those who coach and provide other support for these frontline staff members. Our thanks to THINK Together for working with us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia and lost his life to an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee on April 14, 1968. He was born Michael King (named for his father), but when the family visited Germany in 1934, Martin’s father had both of their names changed to Martin Luther in honor of the protestant church leader. It appears that this “renaming” was prophetic, as King became a clergyman, and then went on to become an activist and civil right movement leader. King was also noted for using the same nonviolent methods that were used by Mahatma Gandhi in India in its revolt against the British Empire.

Probably King is best remembered for his iconic “I have a dream” speech, given in 1963 in Washington D.C. King advocated that America should become color blind and value people for the “content of their character” rather than the color of their skin. This speech established King’s reputation as an outstanding American orator. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end segregation and discrimination based on race, through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. After his death, King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. A federal holiday was established to honor King in 1986.

What is it that your students could do to honor the memory and work of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Here are some things you might consider doing:

Community Service Project

• Neighborhood clean-up
• Painting addresses on the curb in front of homes where they don’t exist
• Painting a room at a homeless center
• Working with a business partner to collect books for children who do not have books at home
• Sending letters to servicemen and women


• Choral reading of King’s “I have a dream” speech
• Songs that have lyrics about the civil rights movement
• A play reenacting King’s life
• Artwork depicting King’s work

Working with your staff and youth you will be able to come up with many other ideas. Take the time to read about King’s life, learn about his methods, and discuss what the United States would be like today if King had not led the way to a different way of interacting with one another.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

“How Will You Measure Your Life?” Part 2

I shared with you the article by Harvard Business School professor, Clay Christensen entitled, “How Will You Measure Your Life?”

Hopefully you have had an opportunity to reflect on Christensen’s three questions:

  • “How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and family become an enduring source of happiness?
  • How can I live my life with integrity?”

I thought I would share a little more of the thinking behind this article as you continue to reflect on these three essential questions. When contemplating question number one, Christensen quotes Frederick Herzberg, “who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements.” Think about how this fits into the work that you are currently doing. Are you having an opportunity to learn, increase your responsibilities, help others to learn and grow, and receive some recognition for your work? Are you recognizing others for the contributions and work that they are doing? In most after-school programs, the answer is a resounding “yes”. After-school is a learning organization on every front—staff, students, school day, parents, and community.

Although you may not always stay in the after-school arena, your thinking can be broadened to inquire if your “wheelhouse” is working with youth, making a difference in the community, or education in general. Thinking about this will help you to answer the second question which really pertains to your purpose—what is it that you should do with the gifts and talents, time and energy that you have been given? I know that for me my purpose revolves around educating myself and others. I am a learner in search of a classroom and I have been blessed with a series of wonderful classrooms throughout my life. The reciprocity of teaching and learning is ongoing—while I am doing one, I am simultaneously doing the other. What is your purpose? What is it that you were born to do? What is it that makes you feel content and fulfilled?

Answering the final question is critical if at the end of the day you would like for people to say, “The world is a better place” because you were here. “How can you live your life with integrity?” Actually, integrity is directly tied to your word and your actions. Integrity means that you understand that life is not about looking right it is rather about being right. It is about doing all of the internal work on yourself so that you can send your energy and talents out into the world to help others be more successful. In the world of after-school, you have an endless number of opportunities to do exactly this. Consider this as you work in your program in 2011. (If you are interested in reading the full text of this article you can order on line at or by calling, 800.988.0886.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Beginning of the Year Reflections

I had the opportunity to read an article by Clay Christensen in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Within several hours of reading the article I was flipping through the channels on TV and on PBS Christensen was giving an interview about this very same article. This double exposure helped me to decide to share the thinking behind the article. During the interview Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, commented that he had recently had a stroke and was also diagnosed with cancer. He went on to say that both of these experiences had caused him to think again about how his life will be measured when it comes to an end. It was apparent in listening to Christensen and in reading the article that he is a deeply religious man, but as it says in the Editor’s note: “we believe that these are strategies anyone can use.”

Both the article and the interview ended with Christensen’s conclusion that the metric by which his life will be assessed will be the lives of the people whose lives he has touched in a positive way. Personalizing that point of view, the judgment of my life and how I have used my talents and gifts, will be in the number of people that I have helped reach their full potential. I believe that this is exactly the goal of after-school programs—to create a high quality program that provides youth an opportunity to make the unique contribution to the world that only they can make. For Consult 4 Kids, we believe that the best way for after-school programs to make this impact on youth, it to provide a comprehensive staff development program that ensures that staff will conceptually experience exactly what you want youth to experience when they are with your frontline staff. In other words, it is the creation of a parallel structure that works with staff and students as well. What a perfect stage after-school provides for us to do our work!

Christensen states that we must each create a strategy for our lives and suggests that this can be done by answering three questions:

“How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and family become an enduring source of happiness?
How can I live my life with integrity?”

I recommend that you consider your answers to these three questions as you move toward setting your course for 2011. 

[1] Christensen, Clay. How Will You Measure Your Life? Harvard Business Review. July-August, 2010.

[1] Ibid.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Does Mark Zuckerberg Affect Your Life?

Mark Zuckerberg, the 26 year old recently named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, 2010, began Facebook from his dorm room seven years ago. Today, if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the world, behind only China and India. Facebook is a network for over 500 million users who choose to connect with others that they care about and the world in general. In a recent interview, Zuckerberg stated that he believes Facebook broadens a person’s ability to stay connected with people even though they don’t have time to hang out together or meet for coffee. These are the friends that you have that you want to keep up with even though you don’t plan to give them a call.

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has given people a voice so that each can share his/her personal viewpoint and opinion. In the Facebook network, there are many communities that come together in a transparent and open way and are linked in ways that make us wonder if there really are a total of 6 degrees of separation. When asked if Facebook was an invasion of privacy, Zuckerberg stated that privacy is in part determined by having control over how and with whom you share information, rather than being totally unexposed or off the grid. On the Facebook network a person can can share opinions and information and in so doing, each “friend” or “viewer” has the opportunity to make better, more informed choices. Zuckerberg believes that when you create something good that has a value for others, some of that value can come back to you. Zuckerberg recently gave $100M to the Newark Schools saying, if I have the resources now, I need to get started giving back to the community.

CNBC will broadcast “Facebook Obsession” beginning on January 6. This broadcast is supposedly the real story behind Facebooks’ rapid growth. According to the previews, with nearly a ½ billion users the affect of Facebook on the world is staggering. The broadcast will explore how Facebook is altering our way of life and perhaps even changing society in ways that we can’t yet understand. Check it out. Become more informed. Facebook or some social media like it, will be a fact of life for the youth you work with if it isn’t already.

To prepare for watching the broadcast, consider how you can help the youth in your program become familiar with Facebook, how they can stay connected with friends through social media, the logistics of Facebook (how to post, create a page, post photos and videos, link to your favorite music, learn about becoming part of a group or a fan, and creating a blog). Facebook is ever evolving and can link you and your students to a variety of other social media. (Think about Facebook pen pals) For some of you, social media may be a mystery, for others it is simply one of the way you communicate. Either way, social networks are the face of the future and it is incredibly important that you don’t let this train leave you in the station. Get on board. Watch the broadcast. Take a class if you need some help (there are a variety of online tutorials that you can go through). Learn the basics.