Boston Celebrates Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week 2018

Boston is proud to participate again in Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, a week-long celebration of the individuals that power high-quality out-of-school time experiences for youth nationwide. This year is the second year we have participated in this initiative, and to celebrate Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, Boston After School & Beyond again provided local program leaders with an opportunity to shine a spotlight on outstanding members of their organizations via our social media platforms.

Below you will find the complete list of this year’s honorees. Boston After School & Beyond is pleased to congratulate all 28 individuals that were highlighted this week and would like to thank them sincerely for their dedication to fostering the growth and development of Boston’s youth. Here’s why these nominees are deserving of this recognition (all honoree descriptions were submitted by colleagues who nominated them for their work, and are in their own words):


Renata Bule

Program Manager, Strong Women, Strong Girls

“Renata Bule works incredibly hard to ensure that 200 college women mentors are prepared to deliver our after-school mentoring program to roughly 700 girls in 3rd-5th grade each year. She moves mountains to develop a strong social justice focused curriculum, coaches our college chapters, evaluates the success of our mentoring sites, administers our monitoring, evaluation, and learning efforts, and coordinates our major program events. As a mentor alumnus, she brings a critical perspective to our work. Renata is a star and we are grateful for all that she does for girls in the Greater Boston area!”


Bernardo Feliciano

Curriculum and Teacher Development Lead, Empow Studios

“As a Certified Observer for Boston After School and Beyond, Bernardo has been the lead in revamping STEM curriculum & learning systems for Empow Studios programs, an SLA summer program held at Dearborn STEM Academy in 2017, as well as the 60+ schools & libraries we teach at every term, including Boston Public Schools, Brookline Public Schools, Cambridge Public Schools, Boston Public Libraries (Lower Mills and Jamaica Plain), and many more. Using a project based learning approach, Empow’s Talent Box is the central system for all of Empow Studios programs, which teach technical literacy through a variety of subjects like video game design, coding, robotics, animation, 3D modeling, music production, and more. Bernardo’s efforts in the development of Empow’s systems and curriculum take a focused approach where many STEM curriculum providers lack: don’t leave out the teacher. His methods are designed to teach ANY motivated instructor to bring STEM to students. Learn more about our teaching approach here, and learn more about Bernardo here.”


Janim Sayles

Assistant Director, Achieve

“Since joining our organization two years ago, Janim’s impact on our organization and our program is clear. Through her work in high school placement, she creates life changing opportunities for students and families. She stands out for her exceptional advocacy, her tireless work ethic, and her undying belief in each and every student she serves.”


Kimberly Marshall

After School Director, Mather Elementary School

“Ms. Marshall is the most hands on Director of an after school program I have ever met. She runs the program with the support of a para, and the students and parents are equally grateful for her time and care. One student was overheard saying, as Ms Marshall walked by, “I really love that lady”. This is the sentiment of all of the  students, staff and parents that have the opportunity to interact with her. I submit Ms. Marshall as an honoree because she is deserving of so much more.”


Allison Baker

Program Leader, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston

“Allison has been with BGCB since the Fall of 2016 and has played the role of unsung hero right from the start. Her daily task of managing the Homework Room at our Tierney satellite location in South Boston does not even begin to describe the impact that she has had. Allison is very involved in the community and seeks out funding opportunities through relationships that she has built throughout her life. She has procured countless monetary and toy donations, has organized and participated in fundraisers to benefit local nonprofits, and gotten our youth to be more involved in the community, like participating in a basketball league that she runs…all with the utmost humility and, quite frankly, aversion to recognition. However, Allison deserves such accolades because she is the embodiment of the BGCB mission and has that rare and innate talent of a true youth worker.”


Samantha Castro-Ventura

Site Coordinator, East Boston Social Centers

“Samantha is an extremely dedicated OST professional. She goes above and beyond what is expected in an OST program and really makes sure that both children and staff are having the most positive programming she (and the organization) can offer. Also, she is a great coworker and sister!”


Marissa Underwood

Program Director, Imajine That

“Marissa is an influential leader and childcare provider throughout our after school programs in Boston MA. She has created a culture of acceptance and understanding among the children, and an environment where her staff members want to go the extra mile for the children within their program. She is conscientious of EEC regulations and utilizes them as a basis for creating an exceptional program for the students.”


Nikiema Marshall

Lead Teacher, Imajine That

“Nikiema is an exceptional teacher. She takes great pride in the after school program and ensures that the highest quality programming is taking place at her site. She works with the kids to make sure that they have a strong grasp of their homework activities and then engages with them on activities that strengthen their other areas of interest. Nikiema is the epitome of what a teacher at Imajine That is!”


Michelle Araujo

Lead Teacher, Hennigan Community Center: After School Tutoring Program

“Michelle Araujo has been of service to scholars and their families at the Hennigan Community Center: After School Tutoring Program for six years. Michelle is the Lead Teacher of our 9.6 to 12 year old classroom. Michelle possesses initiative and drive in her work that is immeasurable. Michelle is a devoted, passionate, innovative, inclusive, and reflective educator that goes above and beyond for the scholars and families we serve. Her enthusiasm for fostering academic curiosity in young minds is not only contagious but inspiring.”


Sara Abramson

Program Manager, Latino STEM Alliance

“Sarah works tirelessly to deliver quality programming to our students. She literally ran our organization by herself for years before an executive director or second manager was on-boarded. Her priorities are always what’s best for the students, looking out for them in every way possible.”


Dali Almeyda

Group Leader, Friends of the Rafael Hernández

“Dali has worked with after school students over the past 3 years here at the Hernández After School Program. She cares deeply for the students and continually tries to find new ways to engage them in after school. Most recently she invited several community members to come and present about their careers for a career day. She also focuses on self improvement and continually pushes herself to be the best she can be!”


Karen Sama

K-8 Director, 826 Boston

“Karen leads 826 Boston’s out-of-school time programming, including our storytelling and bookmaking field trips, our after-school and evening tutoring and publishing programs, and our vacation creative writing workshops. Karen brings her own unique brand of zany creative energy to all these programs, investing in kids a love and excitement around literacy, writing and learning. Beyond that, Karen works deeply with our social-emotional learning initiatives, using programmatic assessment data to address the social-emotional growth of our students. Last of all, she is an enormous bridge-builder between our organization, volunteer community and the students and families we serve. Not only does she partner with other local organizations, businesses and schools, but she also launched a Family Advisory Board to influence our programming decisions.”


Jeffrey Lau

Youth Leadership Coordinator, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

“Jeff has been coordinating leadership development programs for high school youth at BCNC Youth Center for two years now. He grounds his work in deep listening, responsive practices, and radical compassion. Having gone through youth programs growing up, Jeff recognizes the transformative power of youth empowerment and youth spaces in communities of color. He is also currently a Community Fellow at the Institute of Nonprofit Practice and a student in the Community Development program at UMass Boston.”


Dawn Czaja

Site Manager for Boston Summer Learning at Franklin Park Zoo, Zoo New England

“Dawn has been such an amazing asset to our summer program at the Zoo for the past three years. She dives right into the program and is involved in all aspects of it. She helps to provide the students with a wonderful summer experience of learning at the Zoo. Thank you for all of your hard work of making Zoo school so memorable for the students!”


Ashley Harton-Powell

High School Coach, Freedom House

“Ashley is a high school coach that prepares young adults for graduation from high school and assist them in gaining a college going identity to further their career goals. Ashley came into the field serving as a Mass Promise Fellow for 2 years. She is in invested in the lives of the students she serves long-term, and she serves her students beyond her employment roles and responsibilities. ”


Laurie Chroney

Director of Programs, Phillips Brooks House Association

“Laurie has been firing on all cylinders getting PBHA’s after school programs up to snuff. I want to illuminate her amazing work dealing with trauma-response and community partnership in Mission Hill related to incidents this year, as well as focus on the needs of youth amidst staff changes. She also has reinvigorated after school programming for Franklin field/hill to sustain. The focus on quality tutoring and training of volunteers will have ripple effects for the standard it sets for the years to come. Overall, she has also stewarded systems thinking across PBHA’s after school programs regarding safety, liability, and evaluation. Thanks Laurie!”


Bexi Perez

Child Development Operations Director, YMCA of Greater Boston

“Bexi is a committed YMCA Child Development employee. She oversees 10 after school programs supporting Boston Public School students, as well as 2 day camps. She also is the Co-Chair of the Latino Resource Network for our Association. Bexi is dedicated to the mission and cause of our work. She continually strives to achieve excellence in her everyday work. Bexi is a natural leader that has an outstanding relationship with her staff team, colleagues and senior leaders.”


Maddy Stoopack

Senior Program Director and Development Officer, One Bead

“Maddy is currently running an after-school Youth Leadership Program with two groups of 6th graders in partnership with The Steppingstone Foundation. She is so much more than an instructor to her students. She is a number one fan, invested mentor, and, in many cases, best friend. I have had the privilege of watching Maddy’s students become more confident in themselves as a direct result of Maddy’s unwavering support, encouragement, and 1:1 connections. But please, don’t take this recommendation from me–last week, one of Maddy’s students nominated her as a special individual in their community. I don’t think Maddy (or I) will ever tire of hearing that she is their “favorite teacher”.”


Sara Wroblewski

CEO and Founder, One Bead

“Sara has created an organization that has and will continue to positively impact the youth in Boston. She not only founded One Bead, a nonprofit organization that gives students an opportunity to make a difference in their community using $1,000, but she also continuously motivates me to embrace my full potential and capability both in a classroom and office setting, but also socially – ever since relocating to Boston. Sara’s enthusiasm for community-building and outstanding range managerial skills make her an excellent CEO, mentor, and teacher to students excited about creating change within themselves and their community.”


Thanh Nguyen

Youth Programs Director, VietAID

“Thanh leads the Youth Programs here at VietAID, serving about 150 students, 1st through 8th grade, each year. He also supervises high school and college students who engage in the program as tutors, counselors, and classroom teachers. The uniqueness of Thanh’s position is that there are currently no other youth programs in the Boston area that offer the level of bilingual cultural, social-emotional, and academic support that VietAID provides for Vietnamese participants and their families; this puts Thanh in a position of one of the few leaders in our community who can provide a safe place for our youth, surrounded by caring adults who reflect the racial composition of participants and provide mentorship in education, volunteering, leadership, and self-efficacy. Thanh’s sunny disposition adds to the quality of our programs, and his commitment to youth development is unrivaled. He approaches his work with intentionality, mindfulness, and is always open to learning more ways he can improve himself. He’s an exemplar role model and we are proud to have him on our team.”


Donnell Stoute

Couch Mentor, Boston Scores

“Donnell is a true mentor on and off of the field and his teams always conduct themselves with dignity and poise. Donnell and his students have had tremendous success with their social entrepreneurial ventures. With a $10 loan, his team earned a profit of $350 by hosting a movie night. They charged for admission and sold homemade lemonade to fund equipment for students, to keep them engaged in playtime, and to promote healthy lifestyles.”


Ariel Branz

Lead Parent Organizer, St. Stephen’s Youth Programs

“Ariel has worked with parents of young people in our after school program for the past two and a half years. Fluent in Spanish, she is not only a strong advocate for parents and children, she has strengthened our parents’ ability to advocate for themselves and their families. Whether she is putting together a potluck, designing online after school registration, facilitating a parenting workshop, connecting parents with legal help, or organizing for equity in schools, Ariel helps parents to bridge the education gap with kindness and style. Thank you Ariel!”


Lucas Holmes

Senior Program Coordinator, Soccer Without Borders

“Lucas supports so many aspects of our programming it’s hard to keep track! He manages our 70 plus volunteers, stewards our youth leadership program and leads our academic support sessions. He does all this (and more!), while still finding the time to be present and support the middle school girls team he coaches throughout the academic year. Lucas is not only an incredible mentor for our youth, but also a caring and thoughtful colleague.”


Ed McCabe

Director of Maritime Programs, Boston Rowing Center

“For over 40 years, Ed McCabe’s tireless efforts has connected tens of thousands of Boston area young people with their cultural history. Through creative on-the-water after-school programming, our work creates the opportunity for young people to engage with their surroundings and each other in new and unique ways. Ed is not only the founder and director, but he is a daily program participant. Ed’s joy and enthusiasm for his work is second only to his passion for helping kids. He challenges the participants to be better each day, to develop their confidence and skills, and to foster their own sense of confidence and accomplishment.”


Carla Gualdron

Teens in Print Program Director, WriteBoston

“When you imagine the person you want caring for, supporting, and challenging young people in Boston’s after school programming, you may not know it, but you are imagining Carla Gualdron, Teens in Print’s program director. Carla runs powerful after school programming that helps students from across Boston find their voices as writers and young journalists. Carla is equal parts caring and demanding: she’ll come in on a weekend to help you fine tune your draft, send “lovingly nagging emails” if it looks like you may miss a deadline, and listen to the things you really care about. Herself a graduate of the Boston Public Schools and the Teens in Print program, Carla has the skills, heart, and commitment to young people that make after school programming a powerful experience.”


Alyssa Vaughn

Teens In Print AmeriCorps Vista, WriteBoston

“Alyssa, a powerhouse AmeriCorps member, brings her incredible organizational chops, great editorial experience, sense of humor, and deep commitment to young people of the Teens in Print after school program. From the big picture of curriculum development to the small scale of snack acquisition, Alyssa’s keen eye ensures that student has a great after school learning experience and hones their writing and thinking in preparation for college and career.”


Jocelyn Coo and Lyndsea Arikean

Director of Students Services and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Breakthrough Greater Boston

“Jocelyn and Lyndsea are an incredible team that bring dedication, skill and humor to their work everyday at the Breakthrough Boston campus. They can just as easily be found leading a family meeting to support a struggling 8th grade student as they can cheering alongside our young teaching fellows as they greet students each morning. They have incredibly high standards for our students and teaching fellows; Jocelyn and Lyndsea continually push our students and program towards excellence.”


Lakeisha St. Joy

College Success Academy Adviser, The Steppingstone Foundation

“Lakeisha is the Site Coordinator of College Success Academy’s Allston/Brighton after-school program and serves as the Adviser for 5th and 6th grade students. She loves working with Scholars and builds strong relationships with them so she can better support their academic and social-emotional growth. Lakeisha is very creative, and through art and poetry, helps Scholars to develop their voice. She is committed to each Scholar’s success and brings joy each day to the program.”


Stay tuned to Boston After School & Beyond’s twitter this coming week, April 23-27, for individual tweets about each of this year’s exemplary honorees!