Professional Development

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NAA Convention Is Amazing! Take Sean Tate’s Word For It.

NAA Convention is amazing! But I don't want you to just take my word for it. I'm essentially a paid spokesperson—a passionate one, no doubt—but promoting Convention is part of my job!

So, I decided to pull in someone a little less biased.

But, as you'll see, no less passionate!

Sean Tate is the Founder and Executive Director of Discovery FEST NOLA, an afterschool, recess and summer enrichment program serving public schools across the New Orleans area.

Six years ago, I was working as the Executive Director of the Partnership for Youth Development in New Orleans. Sean was a talented emerging afterschool leader, working on my staff and managing the CP3 Afterschool Zone Program. I had the opportunity to bring Sean with me to the 2012 NAA Convention in Dallas, Texas.

Read below for an interview on how the professional development opportunity continues to inform his work today! I look forward to seeing Sean—and all of you—at NAA18!

GINA WARNER: What do you remember most about your first NAA Convention?

SEAN TATE: Other than the TORNADO?!

What I remember most from that first Convention is how much it inspired me. I remember going to one of the gift shops to buy a notebook because, by lunch on the first day, I had already run out of space in the notepad from the hotel room to write down all of the notes, ideas and information I was accumulating!

From walking through the Exhibit Hall to attending sessions to meeting afterschool staff from across the country and hearing about their programs, my first NAA Convention was filled with introductions to new ideas on how to make our program a more youth-centric experience.

GW: What did you learn or see at NAA Convention that inspired your work?

ST: Definitely all of the resources there! The Superhero League curriculum I created for my program came from a one-two punch of experiences from that first Convention.

The first was the booth in the exhibit hall that had comic books bound like library books. Even with my own extensive comic book experience, I had never seen comics produced like that! And what made them even more amazing was that they were designed for afterschool programs so that they would last longer and could introduce reading within afterschool or camp programs—but with the fun of comics and superheroes.

Almost immediately after that, and still with this introduction to library-bound comics on my mind, I attended a session about merging academics into afterschool programs.

There had been a few discussions about how we could implement academics into the CP3 Afterschool Zone, so I figured this might be a good session to learn what other programs had done. As I listened to the testimonials, the idea started to brew to merge these concepts into what would eventually become not only the Superhero League curriculum, but also formed the base for the disguised learning principles that DiscoveryFEST uses and implements across all facets of our programming!

GW: What are you most excited about for NAA18?

ST: For NAA18, I'm excited for several reasons. I'm excited to hopefully share this experience with my program staff for the first time—this will be a first Convention for many of them. I'm also excited to collaborate with colleagues across the country and continue to hear innovative ways that other programs have implemented social-emotional learning, STEM and more into their programs, as well as share our own experiences.

GW: Any advice for first-time NAA Convention attendees?

ST: My advice would be, as cliché as it sounds, to really dive into the whole experience! My first experience with NAA was, more or less, my first Convention experience—so I really wanted to make sure I "Conventioned" the right way.

Before Convention started I read the guide front to back, had two different highlighter colors to spotlight sessions I was interested in, did full laps around the Exhibit Hall, and got the aforementioned notebook.

I was really glad I dove in because as I started experiencing workshops and had new ideas, I was able to highlight—literally and figuratively—workshops or vendors to check out as the Convention went along, to bolster that experience.

GinaWarner-Headshot-UpdateBy Gina Warner, President and CEO of NAA.

NAA18 Convention will be amazing! Don't take our word for it. Take your word for it. Register today!

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