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Professional Development

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Passion, Purpose, Persistence: Highlights from NAA19

Last week, a record-breaking attendance of more than 2,000 afterschool professionals gathered in the Big Apple for four days of learning, networking and inspiration. Here are some of our favorite highlights.

Rise Up and Rally for Afterschool
It's become a tradition for opening night ... When participants from each state gather at the first General Session to shout out (literally!) their pride for their hometown and enthusiasm for their Convention participation. Participants had the opportunity beforehand to make signs and several wore slogan tees with powerful and personal sentiments.

Heidi Ham, NAA's VP of Programs and Strategy, and Tommy Brewer, Deputy Chief of Innovation and Partnerships for Think Together and an NAA Board Member, were the perfect people to fire up the crowd and kick off the state roll call. Of course, those from New York brought their A game to show their fellow colleagues that New York City is ready to host them and won't disappoint! The Mardi Gras beads tossed to the crowd from our Louisiana crew was an unexpected thrill. NAA22 in New Orleans, anyone?


Passionate Keynotes
The theme of NAA19 was "Passion. Purpose. Persistence." Our lineup of keynote speakers certainly carried that theme throughout their presentations.

Alton Fitzgerald White treated us to his incredible voice as he shared his message about giving your all, every day. Alton performed a record-breaking 4,308 times as Mufasa in the Broadway production of The Lion King and recently released his book My Pride: Mastering Life's Daily Performance.

Author and podcast host Gretchen Rubin educated participants about what she calls The Four Tendencies and how, to embrace our passion in work and life, we need to embrace our habits and understand how we respond to inner and outer expectations.

Melody Herzfeld, drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, shared her and her students' story of overcoming tragedy following the 2018 shooting at her school. The connection and love Melody has for her students is truly what has helped lead them to a place of healing.

"Afterschool programs are where real collaboration happens," said Jaime Casap, Chief Education Evangelist with Google and Sunday's keynote speaker.

A real crowd-pleaser, Jaime was funny, educational and offered real options for how we can help our youth with their future lives. He suggested that instead of asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" ask, "What problem do you want to solve?"

naa19-recap-KeynotesA New York State of Mind

Afterschool professionals are positive role models in their programs, every day—and it was evident they came to play, too. The Learning Expo was alive with chatter and hands-on action and experiencing. The sounds of the Living Stepping Sessions from exhibitor Art of Stepping are likely still ringing in participants' ears! There wasn't a ton of free time, but you can bet this group was going to take advantage of every second. Images of NYC landmarks, food, and experiences flooded the Convention app, and it was fun to see all participants managed to pack in.


Sessions: The Heart of Convention
While there was a lot of excitement during the keynotes, inside the Learning Expo—and around the city—participants got down to business when it came time for their personal and professional growth. More than 200 workshops were offered! Participants carefully selected the ones they wanted to attend and often strategized with colleagues, so their group could gain as much knowledge as possible. Here are some of our favorite images that show their experiences in action!


Written by Jill Carroll, Marketing and Media Consultant with the National AfterSchool Association.