It's quite a sight to see an entire ballroom filled with people whose purpose and drive is to serve the youth of our country—and around the world! When I think about the far-reaching impact of NAA Convention, especially seeing it for myself over the years, it makes me smile, fills my heart and gives me inspiration.
Inspiration to ...
RISE UP from challenge and adversity.
Not let anything dim my PASSION for helping others.
Stay focused on my PURPOSE in life.
Be PERSISTENT in reaching my goals.
You see, NAA Convention isn't just about learning the best practices for SEL or literacy and math integration. It's not just where you learn about the latest and greatest curriculum or technology resources. It's not even just about how to best engage parents.
It's about us—the people who are on the front lines where community and education intersect.
NAA Convention enables us to engage with others who we may not otherwise back in our own programs, communities or regions. We have opportunities to share our stories, give solutions, brainstorm the next big idea, or provide a listening ear: Because even as a longtime afterschool professional, sometimes you need to be the receiver instead of the giver.
Four days at Convention provides us access to thought-leaders and innovators who know no bounds. The sky is the limit with a well-laid-out plan, a robust toolbox, and your own personal Board of Directors. You can find all of this and more if you are open to the possibility. I have seen time and again the exchange of ideas during breakout sessions that ended with phone numbers and emails being shared. I have seen it happen while hanging out in the Exhibit Hall and attending the networking events and even weeks after we have all returned home—strong partnerships that continue to foster the passion within.
I remember my first NAA Convention: feeling understood, a little less isolated and alone, and inspired about what could be possible. My staff and I returned home with more focus and tangible ideas that would work for our staff and students. Years later, I passed along the opportunity to other staff members because I wanted them to be the ones to share their reignited passion with me upon their return.
Last year—some 12 years after my first Convention—I walked away with new opportunities to continue my work in helping others achieve their goals.
I can't wait to see what #NAA19 has in store for me and everyone else!
If something is still stopping you from registering for #NAA19, I challenge you to think about why or what is preventing you from nurturing your passion, meeting your purpose, and being persistent. Call me up. Let's figure out how to get you to NYC. Let's not wait another second to be part of something amazing!
Michelle Piña is the Owner of Look 2 Success.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Piña.