Flex Academies President Joshua Chernikoff interviewed Kathy Kelly, onsite coordinator at Carderock Springs Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland. Kelly detailed the many critical roles and responsibilities she performs daily at the school to help manage the enrichment program for Flex. Communicating with parents, ensuring safety, and connecting with vendors are some of the tasks Kelly undertakes each day.
Flex Academies: Kathy Kelly from Carderock Springs Elementary School. Thank you for joining us today. You are the onsite coordinator for Flex academies at Carderock Springs. Can you talk to us about what your role is on a daily basis?
Kathleen Kelly: My main role is to ensure the students have a positive, fun, safe experience after school, that they get to their correct classrooms for their activity, and that when the parents arrive to pick them up, I’m there to greet them, to answer any questions that they have and to make sure all the children get home safely. In addition, I also interact with the various instructors that come to Carderock, make them feel welcome, get to know them a little bit, assist them in any way with logistics in the classroom, handling the children, and communicating any needs or questions they have to the parents.
Flex: So it sounds like there are a lot of roles that are part of the afterschool program. The first priority is obviously safety.
KK: Correct, definitely. And I think that’s the most important thing to the parents and what they appreciate the most.
Flex: And what are the ways you have seen the onsite coordinator position improve the afterschool process?
KK: I think that, I know from my own experience raising four children and having them in different schools with different activities, that a lot of times things can come up. If it’s an outdoor activity, storms can arrive. If it’s people have to be picked up or instructors don’t show up on time and kids are left sort of standing hanging around either at the beginning of a class or at the end of a class and I’m there to ensure that the students have a safe place to go and can wait. I can quickly communicate with the parents by email or cell phone to let them know if something has changed, if they need to pick up early, or if the parents are running late, I am there until the children get picked up.
Flex: You get to work with Lupe [Rohrer, program director for Flex Academies], one of my favorite people in the world. Talk about how Lupe supports you on a daily basis and your interaction with her.
KK: Lupe is always available to answer question that I need within minutes. If something comes up at school and I don’t have the answer to it, if a teacher is late or if a child accidentally went home on the bus and I’m having trouble getting in touch with a parent, she is always there to help me and offer any additional assistance that I would need. She’s been amazing
Flex: Great. Lupe also tells me about all the great experiences that she gets to watch because she goes to all the schools, including Carderock. Can you tell me about the firsthand experiences you have had watching these kids get the enrichment that they want?
KK: I love walking into the classrooms and watching the kids with their activities and the pride they show — the drawing that they did or the various yoga poses they can do, who can hold a position for the longest. In the hip hop class that we did in the Fall, the girls were so excited to show off what they did at the end and we arranged for them to go into the daycare program and get up on the stage and show all their classmates that were there for their performance. They were really excited about that.
Flex: What about the parents? What do you hear from them, because you are really there every single day? You are there to greet the kids but you are also there to greet the parents and I know a lot of parents will wait to sign out their kids so there is a lot of face-to-face that you have with them. What kind of feedback do you get from them?
KK: The parents have been super positive. When they arrive I always greet them. I let them know what their child was doing in class, what the class did that day, how much fun they were having with the activity they learned, what they are going to be doing next week. A lot of parents will ask me about the different programs and if I think it would be a good match for their child in the next session.
Flex: You are one of our best and we really appreciate your work, Kathleen.
KK: I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a lot of fun.
Flex: Well, you are obviously doing a great job and so we appreciate it and keep up the great work.
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