Five Afterschool Superheroes Worthy of Recognition

The Alaska Afterschool Network is recognizing five outstanding afterschool professionals who act as everyday superheroes in our youth’s lives during Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, happening April 24-28.


These Afterschool Superheroes provide academic enrichment and keep youth safe, while making it possible for families to go to work with peace of mind. Out-of-school time staff step forward every day to help children in need, provide healthy snacks and meals, foster success in school, and serve as role models.


This year’s five recognized Afterschool Superheroes are highlighted below.


Tracey Hupe | Club Manager at Boys & Girls Club of Eagle River, Eagle River

Tracey wants all her students to succeed. Each summer she runs a program that helps prepare teenagers for their first jobs and life beyond high school by helping them write their resumes and identify opportunities in their community. Many of the youth are hired on at the Club as Junior Staff. During the afterschool program, Tracey helps youth with homework and makes sure that they are on track to graduate.


The Boys & Girls Club of Eagle River is a busy Club, and Tracey understands that to assure the youth have the best possible experience, it requires funding. She works with local businesses to increase fundraising opportunities for the Club, especially to provide awards and recognition for Club members. Members are recognized for the achievements in a Youth of the Month, Artist of the Month, Techie of the Month, and more.


“Members are offered programs that lead them to succeed in the areas of academic achievement, character and leadership, and living a healthy lifestyle by staying active, making good food choices, and avoiding drugs and alcohol and other risky behaviors,” says Jennifer Brown, a co-worker at the Club.


Tracey’s impact goes beyond the Clubhouse doors. She is very involved in the community, serving as the President of the Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions Club Women’s Auxilary, as well as regularly engaging with the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and the annual Bear Paw Festival.


Nominated by: Jennifer Brown, Co-worker & Lisa Mahan, Senior Director of Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska


Missy Odsather | Afterschool Program Coordinator at Barnette Magnet School, Fairbanks

Missy supports equity among youth in her community. When one young girl was unable to attend the afterschool program due to financial reasons, Missy worked to secure funding from one of the tribal corporations to help provide academic support to the youth. Missy’s actions also support the youth’s mother, a fulltime student, by providing her a few extra hours to focus on her studies while her daughter attends the afterschool program.


Barnette Magnet School has Kindergarten up through 8th grade, so Missy works with a wide span of ages each night at the afterschool program. She incorporates physical fitness activities, collaborative games, peer tutoring and STEM, in addition to homework help.


“She shows up every day with a smile on her face and a genuine love in her heart for the students at Barnette,” says Dana Evans, Principal at Barnette Magnet School.


When Missy noticed that not all her students were engaged after school, she set up a rotating schedule in the afternoon to make sure each student had something they would love – from STEM days, to crafting days, to game days.


“Missy inspires students to be their best every day. She always goes the extra mile to make learning fun and applicable to student’s lives,” says Ashley Yeats, a co-worker at Barnette Magnet School.


Nominated by: Dana Evans, Principal at Barnette Magnet School; Ashley Yeats, Co-worker; Carolyn Jordan, Co-worker; & Deborah Bennett, Co-worker


Janice Hadley | Onsite Coordinator at Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC) 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC), Kotzebue

Janice makes sure that every single one of the 60 kids in her Kotzebue program has a safe way home after the program ends. Often staying late, Janice is understanding that some families may be running late and does not mind waiting to ensure that no student is ever left alone.


“She is compassionate and works with families, which makes them feel welcome and safe,” says Sadie Tollman, who works for the afterschool program and has a daughter in the program.


The 21st CCLC program in Kotzebue has a waitlist almost all year long to get into the program. Janice supports the staff at the program, providing them with the time and energy they need to create inspiring learning activities for students.


“Janice breathes life into our 21st CCLC afterschool program,” says Kat Souser, a co-worker at the program. “Janice dedicates many unpaid hours and donates supplies when needed to ensure the program's success. It is because of Janice that we have exceptional afterschool staff and students eagerly waiting to join the program every year.”

Nominated by: Sadie Tollman, Co-worker and Parent & Kat Souser, Co-worker


Thomas Burek | Executive Director at Trailside Discovery, Anchorage

Thomas has dedicated more than 30 years of service to the afterschool field. He continues to find new, innovative ways to introduce students to nature, and fundraises to provide scholarships to youth that cannot afford to attend the camp. One summer, two young boys from an Iraqi refugee family received scholarships, but had no way of getting to the Science Center. To assist the family, Thomas arranged for the youth to be picked up and dropped off at their house every day of camp.


Trailside serves hundreds of kids every summer and focuses on environmental education. This year will be Thomas’s last summer as Executive Director at Trailside, as he plans to complete his master’s degree in Special Education and transition to a career as a teacher.


“Tom is a mentor to everyone at Trailside. He helps campers become Counselors in Training, Counselors in Training become Counselors, and Counselors become Directors,” says Teresa Worthy, a previous employee of Thomas. “He sees the potential in everybody and does everything he can to help them achieve that potential.”

Nominated by: Teresa Worthy, Previous Employee


Courtney Havrilek | Lead Afterschool Coordinator at Lathrop High School, Fairbanks


Courtney is always looking for ways to support the most vulnerable students at her afterschool program. After one student who was typically very engaged missed a few days of the program, Courtney learned that it was because all the young boy’s clothes were too small for him and the family did not have funds for new clothes. Courtney then worked to pool together all her resources, and by the end of the day, the boy had an entirely new wardrobe donated to him.  


“Courtney works with counseling staff, teachers, community partners, and administration to make sure students who are struggling have the support they need both in school and their community life,” says Julie Wild-Curry, Courtney’s supervisor. “She provides ongoing support to her students and families that extend far beyond her job description.”


Courtney works to keep up with the latest best practices in the field and passes along all her knowledge, insights, and energy with colleagues locally and statewide. With abounding enthusiasm, she is always willing to prepare professional development opportunities to mentor other professionals in the field and contribute to the growth and professionalism of afterschool.


Nominated by: Julie Wild-Curry, Supervisor


These highlighted Afterschool Superheroes will receive an award to honor their impact on youth, as well as free registration to the 2017 Alaska Afterschool Conference, to be held November 16-17.

Afterschool Superheroes is a movement in conjunction with the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) to celebrate the professionals that are at the heart of afterschool programs during Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week April 24-28, 2017.