People – Invest in your staff. Hire the best, they’ll do the rest. But beyond your staff, never lose sight of how your program purpose must serve the needs of your public.
Professionalism – You can’t serve the public well unless you look, act, and dress like a professional. Step it up. Never stop learning. Professional people are quite perceptive and sensitive as to how their actions influence and impact others.
Pride – Pride in a performance is worth more than any amount of money. Pay-for-performance creates tension and jealousy. Instilling pride creates a team. The prevalence of pride casts a positive program image.
Praise – Pride is developed by giving praise to those who practice and work hard toward achieving perfection. A little praise goes a long way toward creating positive attitude and behavior.
Perseverance – The most perceptive afterschool leaders recognize that one of the most important attributes children and youth can take away from program participation is perseverance. Teaching purposeful practice skills, the determination not to quit, and the resiliency to get back up when knocked down are essential for both individual and program performance.
Practice – To persevere, people must practice. Performers understand and accept the pain that must be endured through deliberate practice. And by persevering, they reap the rewards of perfect production and pride.
Patience – In an age where instant gratification is a societal mentality, program leaders must teach the attributes and virtues of patience. Without them, there can be no attainment of perseverance.
Personality – Program leaders must transmit the qualities of a person in charge. Frontline staff must be capable of connecting and engaging the diverse needs of children and youth and bringing out their best. Many kids may never excel in academics, but they can learn to compensate and outshine others by learning to project their effervescent personality. Programs project powerful personalities, too. The leader sets the positive tone.
Presentation – Success in projecting a personality cannot be done with passivity. Positive program performance is attained through confidence, energy, action, decisiveness, and consistency.
Progress – Positive program performance is measured in many ways. Program leaders must maintain a focus on purpose and utilize multiple assessments to assure that participants are attaining high levels of personal and group performance. Besides a wide range of desirable academic and developmental indicators, never lose sight of how the impact of protection impacts program performance.
Politics – Like it or not, program performance is affected by the community political climate. Program leaders must be politically connected and capable of powerfully advocating for the performance needs of children, youth, adults, and program growth.
Public Relations – The community political climate can be influenced by how effectively program leaders develop a public relations campaign. People will not know about the positive performance you attain unless program leaders provide them with information.
Press – The key to developing a successful public relations program is to embrace the power of the press. Develop familiarity and relationships with reporters so that they will promptly print information that you provide them and seek you out as the premier, authoritative voice regarding the power of afterschool programming.
Picture – Perhaps most important of all, positive program performance is realized when program leaders have a clear mental picture of what program quality should look like, sound like, and perhaps even smell like–everyday. Then, once that vision is clear, program leaders must work to help others see it, embrace it, and make it their own.
Program leaders are totally responsible for the actions of all program participants–children, youth, and adults–while they are in performance. But success doesn’t come from just maintaining a great show. It comes from months and months of the leader’s self-preparation and participation in outside high-quality professional development activities with other afterschool professionals.
A veteran public school educator and principal, Dr. Young currently serves as the President & CEO of the National AfterSchool Association where he is passionate about aligning school and afterschool to create expanded learning opportunities for children and youth everywhere.