Today’s blog post comes from Communities In Schools’ Distance Education Specialist Ashleigh Farrar.
Boot Camp. Two words that may intimidate most, but this summer, Communities In Schools site coordinators were up for the challenge.
Last year, the very first class of site coordinators enrolled in the Site Coordinator Certification Program. The Knowledge Management Team began this program with a strong intent to provide a very crucial service to the Communities In Schools network. This service is a prescribed set of online courses designed to increase the knowledge and professionalism of the individuals who have the most direct impact on youth: site coordinators.
A little over a year later, that first class of 46 site coordinators enrolled in the program has graduated and now the program serves a much larger group, with more than 400 individuals enrolled. This summer, to jump-start the program, the Knowledge Management Team traveled around the country to conduct Site Coordinator Certification Program Boot Camps. These training boot camps were designed to support the Site Coordinator Certification Program and were held in Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Lawrence, Kan., and Charleston, S.C. The events lasted one-and-a-half to three days each.
Although participants were not required to jump through tires, they were challenged to soak up information like a sponge. The boot camp agendas were jam-packed and offered courses such as Core Competencies of the Youth Development Worker, Leading the School Needs Assessment and Leadership Skills for the Site Coordinator.
During the boot camp, participants alternated between taking a live course with a facilitator and taking an online version in a computer lab. By the end of the event, participants had completed half of the program with the other half to be completed at home within a 12 month period.
A number of Communities In Schools national office staff and contractors assisted with the delivery of the boot camps. Patti Aldaz-Carrasco, associate director of The Knowledge Management Team, led the live classrooms in Texas and Kansas. Eva Askew-Houser, online instructor, taught courses in Georgia and South Carolina. Other key national office staff members were also asked to present and engage site coordinators in the classroom.
As the distance education specialist, my favorite part of the boot camp was the computer lab. As site coordinators entered the lab, I witnessed many different expressions, including some of sheer terror. We realized before initiating an online program that while many individuals are completely comfortable using computers, some are…just not. My mission was to make sure every site coordinator left that knowing the software well enough to access his or her courses and complete all activities to graduate and receive certification. I expected a little frustration, as this can happen when one is asked to learn a new technology, but what I found is that every individual I met in Texas, Kansas, Georgia, and South Carolina was eager to learn. These site coordinators were determined. We celebrated their accomplishments together. In Kansas, we started calling out each time someone made a 100 percent on his or her test, and the whole lab would applaud. It was truly amazing to observe the camaraderie between site coordinators that had never met before, but already had so much in common.
By the last day of the boot camps, the site coordinators had an air of confidence that could be seen a mile away. They were armed with education and training that many had not experienced, whether they had been on the job for a few weeks or for many years. A sense of well-earned pride filled the room. They were on their way to certification.
Click the thumbnails to see photos from site coordinator boot camps in Lawrence and Austin!