I travel to our state Capitol many times throughout the year and especially in the spring. This year has been the best with multiple kiddos in tow showing and telling all they have learned during our afterschool program.

The young ones want to share what made them proud – counting change correctly – or what was fun – pretending to wait on people and creating ‘tasty’ dishes for their insect-themed diner. And hearing their stories, you would almost believe it was a real place!

The older ones are sometimes shy to speak with Reps or Senators, but when they find their voices, they can really blow me away. So many of them understand that our program is a safe place for them and so important while their parents are still at work. They explain the skills they are learning which will help them with a job or to be a better spouse or mom or dad or teacher or coach. They share about their favorite programs like robotics and STEM and cooking and gardening that they get to experience. They share their success at archery or at learning to operate the 3d printer.

These trips would be easier is I left the kids at home and brought pictures and just told their stories, but then how would they ever find their own voice to advocate?

These trips to the Capitol are important lest I forget that we don’t just operate an afterschool program each afternoon . . . we shape the future one positive relationship and one afternoon at a time.

Stay the Course

Today, I reminded my staff to ‘stay the course’ in maintaining our engaging and positive programming with students before and after school hours. This phrase will forever remind me of Mel Gibson’s The Patriot. Gibson’s character is reminded of these words, often spoke by his late wife, by his son at a critical point when support of the colonial cause was waning.

Even though I am not asking my teachers to raise up arms and go to physical battle, I am asking them to fight for a cause each moment they are with our youth. The battle to take the time to show they care and invest in a positive mentoring relationship. Or to take the time to plan an engaging activity that will be a bright spot and something to share when the youth arrive at their homes. The battle is truly against apathy and it takes each one to doing part to stay the course, to keep our students learning and developing in a positive direction.

This entry is 1/31 for the March Slice of Life Challenge that I will strive to accomplish with a post each day for the month of March.