Professional Development

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Member-to-Member Tip Off: Building Partnerships with Schools

In NAA's Reopening Afterschool Facebook group, members have been asked questions covering a variety of relevant and helpful topics with the goal of offering an exchange of tips between leaders and professionals in the field.

Recently, NAA asked afterschool leaders for their best tips for building partnerships with schools and communicating:

"Our program is a community program, as KCPS is all virtual. We do remind text service as well as our weekly newsletter to send out to families. As far as communicating with KCPS, we have a weekly Zoom/Teams meeting every week so that we can make sure all are on the same page. We also have designated contact people for specific projects on our end so we can make sure things run smoothly. For myself, I am working with transportation on making sure students get to and from the community centers. It has been a great partnership and they have been great with providing the centers with what is needed to help make the students successful."  Erica Kreisler, Out of School Coordinator, Kansas City Parks & Recreation.

"We use signs to share information and, as much as possible, verbal communication (social distancing, of course). I am in contestant contact with my principal. They include me on staff Zoom meetings so I can share or receive information. We have a really good partnership. We are part of the Wallace grant and that has really helped to get me in the same spaces with school leaders/teachers. Sadly, I think a lot of it depends on school leader/principal. I've gone through three now, and only two have partnered with me. But connecting with teachers throughout the day and joining in staff meetings as able has helped. I've partnered with them on family nights as well." – Callie Fowler Ranes, Tulsa Public Schools.

"We do a weekly newsletter on Mondays. We found out parents were receiving too many things on Fridays, so it was best to do a "to come" news instead of a "week in review". We are a school-based program, so our program is woven into the school environment. I make sure I am connected with all the principals about what our program is doing and general workings. I connect with the school office administrators when it's time to schedule events or use different spaces, or on which kids we should or shouldn't have coming to the program. We keep constant connection with the classroom teachers on students they have in their class to better connect the school day to afterschool. We do this by stopping in before school or through email/text. We are a smaller district, so I have direct connection to our central office administrators when needed and work to keep them up to date on the fun things our program is doing, challenges we may be facing, and possible needs/wants for the future." – Tyler Kearns, Program Coordinator for Clayton Kid Zone.

"We operate under the Youth Program within the local rec. We are currently supporting the school's hybrid learning program with an A schedule with us in the morning and school in the afternoon, and a B schedule opposite. Wednesday, school is fully remote and we have all of our kids with us at that time. About 10% of the students attend our program. Our relationship with the school is stronger than ever. We have Title 1 teachers coming out to meet with students, individual virtual meeting times for speech. Counselors come out to meet individually with the most at-risk students. Teachers send us their lesson plans and we send our attendance on remote days. I communicate directly with each principal, counselor, Title 1 teacher, and a teacher from each grade. We primarily utilize email and texting, but also ClassDojo." – Kande Jones, Youth Director, Mulvane Recreation Commission.

What are some of your best school communication and partnership-building tips?

NAA Executive members can join the Reopening Afterschool Facebook group to ask questions, brainstorm solutions, share resources, and learn from each other as our field takes on the challenge of meeting the needs of kids, families, and communities facing a very different back to school season. For more information and access, login to your member account today.

Courtesy of NAA.