Career Story: Assistant Director Of An Afterschool Program

Assistant Director Of An Afterschool Program

Job Title: Assistant Director Of Afterschool Program

Type of Company: I work in the afterschool program that is part of the school system.

Education: BS in Elementary Education

Previous Experience: I started as an aid in a family-run daycare, was a camp counselor during the college years, a nanny, a preschool teacher, and then I started working in an afterschool program 12 years ago and was promoted to Assistant Director two years ago.

Job Tasks: As the Assistant Director of an afterschool program, my responsibilities vary. My main focus is to provide an emotionally and physically safe after school environment for the 50 or so first and second graders that are enrolled in my program. I create all kinds of activities for the kids to do: cooking, science, art, cultural, physical education, as well as snack, recess, and homework time.

My mornings are spent working on planning activities and field trips, doing paperwork, emailing and talking to parents, collecting and recording tuition payments, creating newsletter and notices to alert parents as to what is happening month to month, shopping for program supplies, maintaining my program's web site, and other miscellaneous office duties.

Two main things that I work on throughout the year are the annual variety show and end-of-the-year Hawaiian Luau. These are two activities that have come to be cherished in our program. I guess you could say my job follows a broad spectrum of titles, from teacher to office/business manager to event planner. It's great!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are the times I know that everyone is happy. I love doing new and fun things with the children, as well as some old ones. Talking with children one-on-one is wonderful, because I get to learn more about them. I have the opportunity to meet the first graders for the first time and then I have the privilege of watching them turn into second graders and watch how they develop and make new friends throughout the school year. I get to talk to the parents everyday and keep them informed of how their child is doing. I love planning games and projects, and the Internet has really become a great tool for that aspect of the job.

I think one of the worst parts of the job is having to talk to a parent of a child that is having a behavior problem. I feel bad about it. I'm also not too fond of asking for tuition that is overdue. Sometimes I feel like a bill collector!

Job Tips:
1. Working at an afterschool program, even one that is affiliated with a school, is often seen as "day care". The staff at my afterschool program are all licensed teachers, some with Master's degrees, some working towards Master's degrees, and a few that have many years of experience with children. Two pieces of advice here is to grow thick skin and always present yourself in a professional manner.

2. Take a lot of behavior management classes or workshops. There is no such thing as too much information in this area!

3. Learn how to become a great listener.

Additional Thoughts: I always thought that I would be a classroom teacher some day. When I started working in the afterschool program, it was part time, and I had still had hopes of having my own classroom. I started working full time in the kindergarten portion of our program (after two years part time) and I soon learned that there are many different kinds of teachers in the world, and working with the little ones before and after they went to kindergarten was a wonderful way to extend their day of learning and enrichment. After many successful years working the kindergartners, the program closed (due to the addition of full day kindergarten), and that's when I started working with the first and second graders. I am still experiencing the satisfaction that teaching brings to me on a daily basis. It doesn't get old; if it ever does, you're doing something wrong, or it's time for a change.

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