Flex Academies President Joshua Chernikoff interviewed Carlie Parker, on site coordinator for Bannockburn Elementary School, in Bethesda, Maryland. It was wonderful to see Parker’s perspective on how much the children and parents enjoy the programs. She truly cares about this position and the impact the Flex program is having on students and parents.
Flex Academies: Carlie Parker from Bannockburn Elementary School, thank you for joining us today. Tell us about your role as the on site coordinator.
Carlie Parker: So my role starts as soon as the kids are dismissed at the end of the day, making sure that students get to the right rooms that they need to go to, especially those younger ones that sometimes get lost a little bit in the shuffle at the end of the day. It’s very busy. Next, I’m making sure that the vendors are all there to offer their wonderful programs for the kids for the afternoon. Then it goes to making rounds throughout the afternoon, making sure that everything is going well in the classrooms and then helping with the dismissal at the end, meeting all the kids, making sure the adults that are picking up the kids are the ones that are supposed to be picking them up, and making sure that any kids that don’t see an adult don’t freak out so that they have someone to go to. I make sure that it all runs smoothly during the whole afternoon session.
Flex: Let’s dissect that a little bit with the two groups of people you are really working with. First are the kids, so let’s zero in on them. How do you handle the kids? You have lots of little kids with their backpacks that are making them fall over they are so small — they have to get to where they need to be. So talk about that.
CP: Everything comes down to organization. Making yourself present is really important. They all know that I’m a part of this afterschool Flex program and I’m helping them with the clubs so making myself visible and present, introducing myself to the kids I don’t know is really important so that they know I am someone that they can count on and come up to. I see so many kids throughout the day and they even say, oh I’ll see you after school. So they know where they are going and also just checking in with their teachers, especially those of the little ones, so that they as well know where the students should be going at the end of the day.
Flex: Then, the vendors arrive. They are at a place that is not their home school. Granted, we consistently have the same vendors for the whole eight weeks, but they arrive and there are hundreds of kids moving about. How do you work with the vendors to get them situated and get them on their way?
CP: The first week I make it a point to meet all the vendors in the front hallway and give them a map to the school. That’s really important so they can find their way because all schools are different and they do go to many schools throughout their week. On the roster that I give them, I also just make note of the room that they are going to and that way it helps them remember, because I am sure they are in many different rooms at the different schools where they work. And I really build a relationship with the vendors so they feel comfortable if they are lost, if they have questions. I just try to guide them throughout the school to make them aware of how to reach me at all times in case they need anything.
Flex: I think we have two other stakeholders to talk about, the administration and the parents. So talk about how you work with the administration and you need their help, or are you kind of working on your own?
CP: It’s really important that I have the support of the administration. Being a teacher at the school, I think it might be easier for me because I do already have a relationship with the administration. I feel like my goal really is to inform the administration and keep them aware of things that are happening throughout so that nothing is a surprise to them. I let them know who is in the building and the clubs that we have each day just so that they know our schedule and when we meet so that they really have a clear understanding of what the program looks like.
Flex: Last and definitely not least, the parents. What is your interaction with the parents? What’s the feedback you get with the parents particularly about the onsite coordinator position?
CP: I think parents are just really thankful to have an onsite coordinator. They feel comfortable knowing that there is an adult there that really watches out for their children from the minute school is dismissed until they come to pick up their child. I think if that position weren’t there parents would be a lot more hesitant to maybe have their children participate in these activities. I do everything from if a parent needs to pick up their child early I greet them in the front hallway and get their child for them, to answer any questions and point them to the right person at Flex if they need to talk to someone.
It’s really to just bridge the gap between the vendor and the school — I can help bridge that gap for them. Sometimes maybe their child had a difficult time in their class and I’ve had to hang out with the kid for a little bit or maybe I saw something really neat that the kid did in a class. I’m always really happy to report those types of things to parents as well.
Flex: OK, Carlie, what about you as a stakeholder? I love the fact that we have the onsite coordinators at the schools because we get to learn firsthand what you see from these kids. Talk about what you see in the classrooms — what you see on kids’ faces and what you get to hear from them.
CP: I think what’s really great about being able to go to all these different classes is the wide range of activities that the kids are able to participate in. I’ll go into a Lego engineering class and they are building the highest structure from Paris or they are imagining that they are designers and they are going to the board to see if their design is selected. Then going to a drawing class and seeing them smiling as they are following the instructors drawing techniques. In pottery and cooking, they are always so proud of what they get to take home. Then you see the sports classes and Tae Kwon Do and they are trying new things — those kids who maybe are a little shy in my classroom really shine in those activities. Just seeing the excitement in the kids when they see their parents during pick up they always run to them. They say ‘what did you do today?’ and ‘tell me about your club.’ They are always so excited to share what they have learned and done throughout their sessions.
Flex: Carlie, we really appreciate the work you are doing and absolutely keep it up.
CP: Thank you.
To watch this interview, please visit our Video On Demand site.