Join us in welcoming Rebecca Andersen as our new STEM Expansion VISTA. We are thrilled to have her on our team. Here are her thoughts on why afterschool matters to her and her family.
It is an honor to serve as a VISTA, and work to expand quality STEM afterschool opportunities across our state. I am inspired by the dedicated educators and advocates coalescing around a common goal—improving kids’ access to impactful learning experiences in out-of-school time.
For my family, having access to afterschool programs has been a true treasure. Afterschool programs sustained my daughter through her elementary years, and were crucial to building her confidence, skills and cultural identity. Since moving to Anchorage, afterschool programs have provided vital support to us as working parents. Our son has thrived in a variety of afterschool settings here—Project Ki’L, Camp Fire, and more.
Yet I see similar needs that face youth in both rural and urban Alaska. Back in Cordova, our hometown, the summer camp in town was always full beyond capacity, and some kids who could have benefited the most lacked the family supports or money to register. Now that we’ve moved to the big city, full of resources, I still see that opportunities to participate in quality afterschool programs often fall short of need, and prevent some of our son’s elementary peers from accessing this effective educational support.
So what can we do to improve access to enriching out-of-school time experiences for kids, where it counts the most?
- Hold conversations to inspire our communities to support quality afterschool programs.
- Become civically engaged to expand access to afterschool opportunities for children, and to support working families.
- Open the door to building meaningful and safe relationships with families in your community. Promote key learning moments and mentorship in out-of-school time. As educators, we can engage in professional development, and raise our voice for quality programming.
- As community members, we can contribute our expertise, knowledge, and efforts to volunteer or speak on behalf of the importance of afterschool in Alaska.
As one person desiring to be of service, I look forward to working with afterschool educators this year in building science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) into afterschool programs. When delivered effectively, STEM is a powerful tool that empowers children to imagine their best futures.
It is my great pleasure to join the team at the Alaska Afterschool Network to further this work. I look forward to working with you.
Rebecca Lynne Andersen, AmeriCorps2@akafterschool.org