Quality Achievement Award Winners Celebrate and Learn at National Convention

2013 Quality Achievement in Education award winners and KU leaders at the National Afterschool Association's annual convention in New York City.

2013 Quality Achievement award winners and KU leaders at the National Afterschool Association’s annual convention in New York City.

When we come together around a mutual purpose, with each person doing their part for the greater good, we create Meaningful Moments that last a lifetime.

Gretchen Yeager, Director of Quality and Accreditation, Champions

What do you get when you combine five award-winning Site Directors or teachers and five days with after school industry leaders in New York City? An inspiring and insightful week known as the 2014 National Afterschool Association Convention. Five of Champions’ best leaders, our 2013 Quality Achievement Award winners, received an all-expense-paid trip to the Big Apple for the convention where they connected with leaders and experts in the after school field, shared their success, learned from peers in workshops (some led by Knowledge Universe experts), networked with other after school professionals, and enjoyed a banquet dinner in their honor.

“When we come together around a mutual purpose, with each person doing their part for the greater good, we create Meaningful Moments that last a lifetime,” said Gretchen Yeager, Director of Quality and Accreditation, Champions. “The Champions Quality Achievement Awards reception and dinner was just such an event. Together we celebrated five stellar individuals who exemplify the Champions brand and make a difference in the lives of children and families every day. It is a privilege to do the work we do.”

National Afterschool Association board member Karla Johnson had the opportunity to meet with each of the award winners, and she walked away impressed with how thoroughly Champions, and KU, understand that providing high-quality education to youth begins and ends with hiring the right people.

“We all know that as providers we have the opportunity to change lives every day,” she said. “What I found was that at Champions, you change the lives of your people as well as your children and families. You take the time to honor your best and brightest with the experience of a lifetime, which will influence everything they do from that point forward.”

Each of the five Champions award winners returned from the convention inspired to share what they learned with their staff. Several winners said it was the trip of a lifetime, but even while sightseeing around Manhattan during their breaks, their students and staff were never far from their minds. Here are their thoughts about the convention:

“Winning this special award validates how much I enjoy working with children and their families and making a difference in their lives,” said Linda Willms, Site Director at Copeland Elementary in Libertyville, Illinois. “I particularly enjoyed meeting all the KU Executives and the other four winners and sharing ideas and our thoughts. An added bonus was the workshops we were able to attend at the conference to gain some fresh ideas to bring back to our sites. I would never have been there without the support of my Area Manager Jill Anderson who saw something special in me and for that I am forever grateful. She, Semira, Deb, and Gretchen made me want to try that much harder to make them proud of what we were doing at our site along with making learning fun for the children. I can’t thank KU enough for this humbling experience that I will always treasure.”

“There were many things I took from the conference, but one thing that stood out was the professionalism, dedication, and passion from everyone I met and the desire for continued improvement to ensure the best quality programs for those we serve,” said Leslie Barr, Site Director at Loveland Primary in Ohio. “Thank you for making this experience a memorable one.”

“I am proud to be selected as a 2013 Quality Achievement Award winner from Champions. My other fellow award winners are such great people and I am really glad I was able to meet them,” said Jason Nedley, Site Director at Whittier Elementary in Fircrest, Washington. “Sightseeing in New York was fun too, of course. [After I retunred] at least 15 kids made crayon Spiderman posters, with inspiration from a spray paint Spiderman picture I purchased from a street artist in Times Square. I am also typying up my notes from the National Afterschool Association conference to share with fellow employees back in my area.”

“Being chosen as an award winner for Champions was such an amazing honor,” said Charmaine Balaoro, Site Director at Helen Carr Castello Elementary in Elk Grove, California. “I told my children that even though I was named the award winner, the children, families, our staff here at Castello, and my wonderful Area Manager Amy were all the winners. We should all be proud of this awesome accomplishment. When you love what you do and are passionate about it, your hard work will pay off. It feels pretty darn awesome!”

“One of my biggest takeaways was how to manage/organize my work to ensure I’m developing my staff and getting the most out of my program.” said Franchesca Carrington, Site Director at Plympton Elementary in Waltham, Massachusetts. “The passion everyone exhibited was contagious. It inspired me to move forward and take my program to the next level.”

Congratulations to each of our 2013 Champions Quality Achievement Award winners! As Kathie Boe, Vice President, Quality and Accreditation, said after the conventions:

“We were inspired to meet you, learn from you, and to share in your celebration Thank you for your dedication to honor families, and for providing exemplary programs where children can learn to accomplish their dreams.”

If you’d like to see a slideshow highlighting each of the award winners, please click here (please note it may take some time for the slideshow to load from KLCentral).

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