Through the organization she founded, Sonia trains afterschool and early childhood educators to help kids manage their behavior by teaching them values and simple guidelines to live those values. She sees success when she helps an afterschool staff member solve the kind of problem that can make work a discouraging place.
Recently a young staff member in one of her training groups described a child whose behavior was unmanageable. Sonia taught the staff member techniques she could use to help the child take ownership of his behavior. After trying those techniques, the staff member later told Sonia, not only did that child do a complete turnaround in attitude, the tone of the whole class improved.
Staff training is mandated for licensed afterschool programs, and Sonia knows that’s why people come to her workshops. However, Sonia said, “When they leave here, they find they were actually engaged, and they walk away with concrete tools they can use every day.”
Although Robert has worked in afterschool for years, he looks forward to every training and professional development opportunity that comes his way. “Some people can do the same thing over and over,” said this former TASC AmeriCorps member, “but I need new ideas so I don’t get burned out.” His favorite activities to lead are sports and science. He’s found his greatest success recently in attending science trainings where afterschool educators can be kids for a day, and experiment with the same hands-on activities they will lead in their programs. “If you would try to look up science curriculum on the web, there’s no context,” he said. “In the training, you see it through (the kids’) eyes.”
While attending college, Joshua thought he would become a psychologist. But he needed to earn money while in school, so he got a work-study job that required him to attend a training session on how to help people earn their GEDs. He bonded so quickly with the trainer at that session that she became Joshua’s mentor, and inspired him to make a career in youth work. She hired him for other positions where he worked with younger students in afterschool programs. Just by attending that first training session, Joshua said, “I got a job and a pay check, I got a mentor, and she guided me to a great graduate school at Boston University.” The trainer-turned-mentor was the first person he called (after his mother) when he was hired for the position he now holds with Abyssinian Development Corporation.