Literacy at the National Conference

Dare to Disrupt!

If there is one skill that makes learning possible, its literacy. Its not just the responsibility of classroom teachers to teach this skill. All of us in this field, but especially those of us involved in summer learning, have a responsibility to keep kids reading so they can keep learning both when the school bell rings and long after they graduate.

The National Conference on Afterschool and Summer Learning is coming up on October 24, 25, and 26, and we’re proud to feature these three sessions on literacy where you can learn how successful out-of-school time organizations make learning about reading and writing fun!

Register for the conference today so you don’t miss out.

Program Practices to Provide Equitable Summer Opportunities for Children

Karen Colville, Save the Children, Fort Collins, CO

Tuesday, October 25, 10:15 AM

In this session, participants will be provided with low-cost, high-impact practices on literacy components, health and nutrition, team-building and more from Save the Children partner schools in rural communities.

REAL Kids Make REAL Progress in Literacy-Based Summer Learning Program

Sean O’Connor and Andrew Waters, Harlem RBI, New York, NY

Wednesday, October 26, 12:00 PM

Harlem RBI’s innovative REAL Kids Summer and After-School Program serves youth in East Harlem and South Bronx, NYC from kindergarten to fifth grade. Last year, 99% of children that attended REAL Kids avoided summer learning loss and had a great time! Find out how the youth they serve play, learn and grow with incredible success.

Building Self-Esteem with Storytelling, Writing and Rapping!

Meredith Scott Lynn and Julia Gabor, WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, October 26, 10:15 AM

Self-expression by way of storytelling, journalism and rapping is a powerful avenue for increasing the self-esteem of young people while learning vital literacy skills. This lively session will teach you how to inspire kids to find and explore their “own voice.”

Announcing 2016-2017 Youth Work Methods Series in Spokane

Hey Spokane friends! We’re very happy to be able to announce the complete calendar for our 2016-17 Youth Work Methods Series workshops in Spokane.

These aren’t the only workshops we’ll be hosting in Spokane this school year, so be sure to keep following us here on our blog, or sign up for our newsletter to get updates on upcoming trainings near you.

Workshop Title Date Time
Structure & Clear Limits 09/21/2016 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Homework Help 10/20/2016 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Building Community 11/15/2016 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Ask, Listen, Encourage 01/19/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Reframing Conflict 02/07/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cooperative Learning 03/09/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Planning and Reflection 04/25/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Youth Voice 05/18/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Cultural Competency and Responsiveness at the National Conference on Afterschool & Summer Learning

Dare to Disrupt!

As SOWA’s own Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth recently told Youth Today, “To make progress with real youth outcomes, you’ve got to get staff to be responsive to the cultures of the children in the program. If you don’t train staff to be culturally responsive, how can you create a safe environment for kids to realize their potential?”

This is why Cultural Competency and Responsiveness is one strand at the National Conference on Afterschool & Summer Learning: Dare to Disrupt! The Pathway to Excellence in Education coming to Seattle this October 24-26!

Check-out the full conference schedule, and take a moment to learn about four incredible sessions at this year’s conference that seek to to improve our cultural competency and responsiveness in working with young people.

The conference summer registration rate ends August 31st, so register today to secure your spot at this one of a kind conference experience.

Using Storytelling and Culture to Engage Marginalized Students

harris-275Dr. Rénard Harris, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC

Wednesday, Oct 26, 12:00 PM

Culturally responsive teaching validates students – race, culture, and identity, and stories connect us and inform us of how to respond to what might happen in the future. Learn the process and participate in creating oral stories and using culturally responsive teaching to engage marginalized students.
Our Notes: Stories are central to human culture, and children come to understand the world through the lenses of the stories they learn. A culturally competent instructor knows that the same story may be interpreted differently by children with different backgrounds and experiences. This promises to be a thought-provoking session.

Our Notes: Stories are central to human culture, and children come to understand the world through the lenses of the stories they learn. A culturally competent instructor knows that the same story may be interpreted differently by children with different backgrounds and experiences. This promises to be a thought-provoking session.

Understanding Gender: Working with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Children and Youth

bob-275‘bob’ McNeil, Leadership Development Coach, Coaching Leaders, Spokane, WA

Wednesday, Oct 26, 10:15 AM

Transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth are becoming increasingly visible in our schools and programs. Because staff members are unsure of how to be respectful and affirming of transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth, they may unintentionally subject them to situations that are discriminatory and harmful.

This interactive training offers youth providers with information and best practice tools to provide transgender and gender-nonconforming youth with appropriate and informed support and includes: terminology, clear understanding of the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, best practice in addressing common issues that come up including bathroom use and use of preferred names and pronouns.

Our Notes: ‘bob’ McNeil has been one of SOWA’s coaches in the Spokane area for years, and a veteran of our Bridge Conference, instructing on such diverse topics as this 2015 session on high quality programming in rural settings (which will be back for an encore this year!). Now, bob’s bringing two decades of experience in youth development and an eye for equity to helping conference-goers make transgender youth feel safe and welcome in their programs.

Supporting the Socio-Emotional Needs of English Learners

jhumpa-jimena-275Jimena Quiroga Hopkins, Co-Executive Director, Development Without Limits West, Oakland, CA

Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Co-Executive Director, Development Without Limits West

Tuesday, Oct 25, 3:00 PM

Through interactive activities, this workshop will help expand the definition of English Learner success to go beyond English acquisition, deepen understanding of the English Learner experience, and will share research-based strategies to address the socio-emotional needs of English Learners.

Our Notes: Imagine what it is like for students whose native languages are not English, yet live in an English-dominant world. Also recent Bridge presenters, Jimena and Jhumpa will impart skills for making those young people’s lives just a bit brighter.

Structural Racism

nick-debbe-275Debbie Barnes, SOWA Trainer & Coach

Nicolas Bradford, Founder, Restorative Justice Center of the Northwest, Tacoma, WA

Tuesday, Oct 25, 3:00 PM

A thorough understanding of structural racism can help all professionals provide effective services for youth and their families. In this session we will explain structural racism, provide examples of and data on structural racism, and discuss implications for youth. The material can be emotionally challenging and we will provide what we hope will be a helpful structure for understanding and a learning environment for every participant to grow.

Our Notes: Long-time followers of SOWA may recognize this session, as we frequently offer it as a community workshop. Now, this session will be brought to a national audience, giving providers historical background to understand structural inequities in American society and how racism persists today. Our colleagues from outside the Seattle area are encouraged to catch this enlightening session while in town.

Summer Learning Opens a World of Possibilities to Young Dreamers

Astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger (left) and Wendy Lawrence (right)

Astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger (left) and Wendy Lawrence (right)

SOWA has been working closely with former NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence on our Zero Robotics program. This is a STEM summer learning program where students across Washington state get a chance to program a trio of robots located on the International Space Station. Tomorrow is the final competition for programs in Washington, when their code will actually be run *in space*!

Wendy along with another former NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger understand and value the importance of STEM learning in afterschool and summer settings. We thought we’d share what our two space-faring partners had to say about the importance of this program and STEM learning in Washington.

Children across our state dream of a bright future – some dream of being scientists or doctors, others engineers. Many dream of being astronauts. While we all know that our childhood ambitions wax and wane over time, for too many children in Washington, they disappear because opportunities to turn those dreams into lifelong passions and careers are absent or out of reach.

According to the Office of the Governor, 47,000 jobs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field will go unfilled by 2017. Despite being the home of global STEM innovators and employers such as Microsoft, Boeing, Blue Origin, and a host of tech start-ups spanning every imaginable area, Washington’s workforce continues to fall behind in STEM.

Especially for low-income children, children of color, girls, and children living in rural areas of our state, innovative strategies are needed to engage these populations. Moreover, providing opportunities to incite passion and excitement around STEM is crucial for helping to make dreams a reality and maintaining Washington as a thriving economic hub and STEM center.

While we must focus on providing high-quality STEM education during the school day, ensuring access to STEM programming and opportunities outside of the classroom holds valor and importance as well, especially in reaching populations of children with limited access to the often expensive and therefore out of reach STEM afterschool and summer programs.

As we enjoy the last days of summer and start to prepare and think about heading back to school, it’s critical to acknowledge the key role of afterschool and summer in supporting STEM learning and engagement.  The hours youth spend in afterschool and summer programs provide experiential, hands-on learning that looks different and enhances what happens during the school year creating lasting, fun memories for all.

Organizations are stepping up to address this issue by offering low-cost programs that increase access to more children, but without public support they are only Band-Aid solutions.

In our careers, we have experienced firsthand the ambition, drive, and perseverance it takes to succeed and have our childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut come true. But we also know that fulfilling your dream becomes much more difficult if you don’t truly believe that this is a career that is open and available to you.

This summer, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA, and School’s Out Washington, we are helping dreams come true for middle school students across Washington State.  Zero Robotics, a free program in its first year in Washington State, will serve students in predominately low-income communities in King County by engaging them in a five week program learning how to write code for three small, free-flying satellites aboard the International Space Station. On August 12th, they will compete with their peers from across the country in a final competition at the Museum of Flight refereed live from space.

Youth are not just learning how to code – they are learning about physics and teamwork, and how to learn from mistakes to make a better product.  They have the unique opportunity to explore space in ways they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, and of most value to us, they are able to see themselves in a career field they may never have thought was possible for them.

Making more expanded learning opportunities afterschool and in summer like Zero Robotics accessible to more youth from low-income and diverse backgrounds is crucial to fostering thriving communities across our state and nation that allow all youth to pursue their dreams and contribute to a healthy and vibrant society.  Let’s build more opportunities that open the door for Washington’s children to not only have dreams, but to achieve them as well.

New Regulations regarding School-Age Programs Operating in School Buildings

On July 25th, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) sent an email out to providers titled “School-Age WAC Update.” This email read, in part: “for all school-age programs that operate on public and private school premises, DEL will no longer inspect for or regulate under WACs as outlined in the School Age Facility Environment WAC List. It will be the responsibility of these programs to address any observations or concerns that relate to these subject areas directly with school personnel.”

So what does this mean exactly? Well, all licensed school-age programs have been periodically inspected to ensure that the site location met certain building specifications per regulation as well as meeting other kinds of regulations regarding provider qualifications, records, etc. For programs operating in school buildings, meeting those building specifications often meant making modifications to the classrooms or spaces inside the school or on the school playground where their programs were held.

These new guidelines from DEL, per legislation, will no longer be enforcing building and playground specifications for programs operating in schools, be they public or private. In other words, if the space is good enough to be in a school, it does not need to be modified for a school-age program. DEL will still inspect school-age programs for compliance with regulations not having to do with the physical space.

Licensed school-age programs that don’t operate in a school (such as a community center or private facility) still need to meet the same regulations as before, as would any preschool program operating in an elementary school.

Below is the full text of the email sent out by DEL on July 25. SOWA will be closely monitoring implementation. David Beard would be happy to answer any questions you have at dbeard [at] schoolsoutwashington.org.


The Department of Early Learning (DEL) recognizes that educational institutions are required to establish and maintain ongoing compliance with specific provisions of law, regulations, contracts, grants, ordinances and Federal standards designed to keep children safe during educational instruction.  

The Early Start Act (House Bill 1491) was approved on June 30, 2015, and later amended to include new language that modifies DEL’s scope of authority to regulate the physical facility environment of programs that operate on school premises. HB Section 4-(2)(a)(b) specifies the following:

  • (2)(a) In consultation with the state fire marshal’s office, the director shall use an interagency process to address health and safety requirements for child care programs that serve school age children and are operated in buildings that contain public or private schools that safely serve children during times in which school is in session;
  • (b) Any requirements in (a) of this subsection as they relate to the physical facility, including outdoor playgrounds, do not apply to before-school and after-school programs that serve only school age children and operate in the same facilities used by public or private school…”

DEL has defined the “physical facility environment” as all of the physical structures maintained within or attached to the structural building and premises, and that are directly maintained by the public or private school.

Therefore, for all school-age programs that operate on public and private school premises, DEL will no longer inspect for or regulate under WACs as outlined in the School Age Facility Environment WAC List. It will be the responsibility of these programs to address any observations or concerns that relate to these subject areas directly with school personnel.

DEL will revise WAC and RCW to reflect these changes and let you know when they go into effect. We understand that there may be questions that relate to these changes.  If you have questions that are not answered in the materials provided in this message, please feel free to contact your local licensing office for more information.

For quick access to the Legislation, please see the links below:

Press Release: Landmark licensing agreement brings increased access to high-quality programming for Washington’s youth

forumSeattle, July 2016 — A new licensing agreement will lead to more Washington State youth gaining access to high-quality after-school programming.

The agreement between the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and School’s Out Washington (SOWA), a leading Washington champion for high-quality youth programming, will allow SOWA to administer the Weikart Center’s Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) throughout the State of Washington.

cypqThe Weikart Center, a division of the Forum for Youth Investment, empowers education and human service leaders to adapt, implement, and scale best-in-class, research-validated quality improvement systems to advance child and youth development. The YPQI model seeks to improve quality at the point of service: the place where youth and staff come together. The intervention is a multi-month cycle that leads with performance assessment and then engages staff in planning and improvement based on the assessment.

School’s Out Washington provides services and guidance for organizations to ensure all young people have safe places to learn and grow when not in school. SOWA is dedicated to building community systems to support quality after-school, youth development, and summer programs for Washington’s children and youth ages five through young adulthood.

This agreement allows SOWA to promote, resell, perform, distribute, display, and deliver the elements of the YPQI intervention to out-of-school time networks and sites in Washington State.

“This agreement will help us reach even more youth in Washington State. We couldn’t be more excited for this new chapter in our work with the Weikart team,” said Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth, SOWA’s Chief Program Quality Officer.

“We really value and admire SOWA’s strong systematic approach, model of coaching, and external assessment capacities. This opportunity will open up local creativity and energy to innovate and expand statewide quality work,” said Dr. Charles Smith, Executive Director of the Weikart Center.

Contact: Joe Bertoletti, Director, Field Services, at 734-714-2522 or joe [at sign] cypq.org.


The David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality (www.cypq.org) empowers education and human service leaders to adapt, implement, and bring to scale best-in-class, research-validated quality improvement systems to advance child and youth development. The Weikart Center is a division for the Forum for Youth Investment.

School’s Out Washington (www.schoolsoutwashington.org) is a statewide organization with a mission of providing services and guidance for organizations to ensure all young people have safe places to learn and grow when not in school. School’s Out Washington is dedicated to building community systems to support quality after-school, youth development, and summer programs for Washington’s children and youth ages five through young adulthood.

Are you Culturally Competent?

Earlier this month, Youth Today published an article looking at the importance of cultural competency for professionals working with young people in afterschool and youth development settings.

School’s Out Washington and Washington State have been leaders when it comes to developing standards and competencies to help professionals understand what cultural compJackie Jainga Hyllsethetency looks like, both as a youth worker and in the program setting.

Below is an excerpt from the article interviewing our own Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth, Chief Program Quality Officer at School’s Out Washington who led the process engaging key partners, providers, and other stakeholders in Washington both in developing our state’s Core Competencies and Quality Standards.

As a result of this work, School’s Out Washington has developed a training module on the Cultural Competency and Responsiveness Quality Standard to help professionals better understand what this looks like and how to integrate best practices into their program and interactions with youth.  This month, School’s Out will be leading our first training of trainers on this topic to expand the pool of diverse trainers qualified to deliver this content.

Take a moment to read Jackie’s words on this subject, and view the full article on Youth Today’s website.

The importance of cultural competency

(excerpt taken from Youth Today Are you Culturally Competent? Responding to Kids Diverse Backgrounds and Experiencesby Stell Simonton; published on July 14, 2016)

Cultural competency is among the core competencies for youth development professionals listed by the National Afterschool Association.

It requires being aware of one’s own cultural beliefs and practices, according to the NAA, and it means valuing and respecting the culture of others. It also means creating an inclusive, welcoming and respectful environment for all children, connecting teaching and learning opportunities to the the kids’ experience and cultures.

Several states, including Washington and Arizona, have extended beyond the NAA’s listing to make cultural responsiveness one of their quality standards.

“To make progress with real youth outcomes” you’ve got to get staff to be responsive to the cultures of the children in the program, said Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth, chief program quality officer at School’s Out Washington, the state’s after-school network.

If you don’t train staff to be culturally responsive, how can you create a safe environment for kids to realize their potential, she asks.

When teachers and after-school staff are mostly white and female, they may have little exposure to the different stresses on people of other cultures and their different cultural practices, Jainga-Hyllseth said.

The staff could be running a program for English language learners or children of color, she said.

If they have no experience or knowledge or awareness of the children’s different culture, race or physical disability, it’s hard for them to understand how to provide a safe environment, she said.

Data shows the major achievement gap between white youth and young people of color.

“We lead with race because that’s the most urgent area that needs attention and because we have data that show the enormity of the gap between African-American children and white children in school, in health and in their environment,” she said.

Skagit Community Embraces Summer Learning Program

If you had gone to the campus of Mount Vernon’s Skagit Valley College in the first weeks of summer, you would have seen that even though school was over, the learning was not.

When SOWA visited on July 18th, we came upon a cacophonous room full of school-age children banging on drums while a smiling teaching artist in the center helped them keep the beat.

In another room, the middle- and high-school-aged students were in the middle of a STEM activity, learning about the environment and engineering by building model structures with ‘green roofs’ that absorb rainwater into growing plants rather than letting it run off into streams and rivers.

water

All of the kids were wearing red t-shirts emblazoned with a picture of a cardinal giving a thumbs-up—Skagit Valley College’s mascot—and the words “Aprende en tu colegio,” Spanish for “Learn at your college.”

Nearly all of the 197 kids at Summer Academy 2016, a program of the Foundation for Academic Endeavors, are Latinos whose parents work in Skagit County’s agricultural industry, often for twelve hours a day in the summer months. This is a community with low graduation rates and a high level of poverty.

“A lot of these kids have never been on a college campus before,” said Carol Rodin, a board member with the Foundation and one of four co-administrators of Summer Academy 2016. She said her organization hopes to instill in these children that this campus is a part of their education, that this is a place they are welcome.

Skagit Valley College graciously provided space for Summer Academy 2016, but they’re just one institution that’s come together to make summer learning in Skagit a reality. Summer Academy 2016 received funding and volunteers from at least eight different churches across Western Washington. The Mount Vernon and Burlington School districts both provided school buses to transport students from their homes across Skagit, as well as child-sized furniture not usually found on college campuses. Family Promise, a homeless assistance organization, also lent them use of a smaller van to transport pre-school-aged children.

Summer Academy 2016 also received support from School’s Out Washington, one of ten organizations in Washington’s rural communities that received funding as a part of our Feed Your Brain grant. Our support meant the Foundation was able to bring on certified teachers, improving the quality of the experience for the children. Among them were two teachers trained in Mexico, now residing in Skagit County, able to work with the children in their own native language.

Also, SOWA has partnered with Page Ahead to provide each participating child at our Feed Your Brain sites with four brand-new free books during the program. Many of these children have a limited home library, and these books from Page Ahead allow them to grow their love of reading.

superman

Another core value of Feed Your Brain is connecting summer programs with the USDA Summer Food Service program. Many children that depend on free or reduced price meals during the school year are at risk for going hungry during the summer months. The children at Summer Academy 2016 all receive free breakfast and lunch as a part of this federally-funded program, staffed by cafeteria workers from the Mount Vernon School District.

There is plenty of unmet demand for summer learning programs in Skagit’s Latino farmworker community. Robin Ringland, the Foundation’s Board President and co-administrator, told us that Mount Vernon has 900 children their school district believes should be attending summer school, but only have space for 100 at their own programs.

This is common in Washington’s rural areas. In many communities, summer learning programs funded by Feed Your Brain are the only game in town.

Foundation board members and academy co-administrators Rosario Aguilar and Marlene Kurtz Rios went door to door recruiting families to send their children to the Summer Academy. Aguilar said registration was slow at first, as parents weren’t sure what to think of it. But as soon as one parent was convinced, she said, word spread through their community and everything changed all at once. Ringland said registration climbed so much in one day that they had to reserve two extra rooms at the college!

The Foundation expected Summer Academy 2016 would serve about 100 children. As of July 18th, they’d served at least 196.

For Aguilar, the reward of this work is the hope that some of these kids will be ready for college when they graduate, and not be intimidated by the institution.

“They’re not afraid to go to college,” she told us through a translator. “They’ve already been to college.”

Let’s Meet Lauren Leary, Statewide External Assessment Coordinator

lauren-300We at SOWA are happy to introduce Lauren Leary to our community. Lauren is our Statewide External Assessment Coordinator, handling our small army of assessors who go to afterschool and summer providers across Washington to help them figure out what aspects of their programs need improvement.

Let’s hear from her how she found her way to SOWA, a circuitous route that started in Colorado but took her to Seattle, two countries overseas, the nation’s capital, and back to Seattle.

Where are you from?

That’s a hard question to answer. I am most recently from Washington DC and before that I lived in Armenia, Seattle, Colorado, and Singapore. Colorado is where I grew up though!

What do you like to do in your own time?

I try to get out to the mountains or be in nature as often as I possibly can. I like to backpack, hike, climb, ski, kayak, bike, and do anything and everything outside. I am also a photographer and am most passionate about wildlife and landscape photography. I have enjoyed photographing many events, but feel the most alive and inspired when I am in nature with my camera and can slow down and see the world from unique perspectives. I enjoy gardening, try to practice yoga on a regular basis, and like to go to concerts or watch live concerts from my couch with a glass of wine in hand.

What brought you to SOWA?

I had lived in Seattle for a couple of years right after college before I joined the Peace Corps. After completing my service in Armenia, I was accepted into graduate school in Washington DC where I focused on program monitoring and evaluation and worked at the National Science Foundation. After a while I got an itch to move out West again as I have always been drawn to the mountains and nature of the Pacific Northwest.

I wanted to find an organization to work with that shared my values around education, evaluation, community relations, and equity. I had worked as an after school program manager and volunteer coordinator at Horn of Africa Services here in Seattle and the experience could not have aligned better with my current position at SOWA, which was created to strengthen afterschool and summer program quality assessment systems. My interest is in non-profit management, data collection, ICT4D, and evaluation, and my new position allows me to come full circle and acquire a holistic perspective on the field of monitoring and evaluation around education programming. It’s nice to work somewhere that places a high value on relationships and community building. SOWA already feels like home!

Tell us one thing you are proud of.

I am proud of my little host sister in Armenia for placing high in the national poetry contest this year. When I first met her, she knew little English and was very shy to speak. She has improved significantly, feels more confident with her speaking skills, and has gotten involved with various volunteer opportunities that have allowed her to travel outside of the country for the first time ever. Her world has expanded because of hard work and persistence and I am grateful and proud to be a part of her journey.

Let’s Meet Teresa Rende, Statewide Training Coordinator

teresa-300Supporting SOWA’s statewide Community Workshops requires one to be a Jack/Jane of Many Trades. You have to do everything from event management to working with databases, and then you have to know a thing or two about working with youth on top of that. SOWA found a Jane of Many Trades in Teresa Rende, who’s worked in such diverse settings as a youth theater and a cruise ship. Let’s get to know her!

Where are you from?

I was born, raised and spent most of my life in Chicago, though I’ve also lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and internationally, working on board MS Norwegian Gem in the west Mediterranean and Caribbean. I relocated to the Seattle area in June 2016 and as I’m staying with family, I still don’t know where my home here will be, though the south side is looking pretty good!

What do you like to do in your own time?

I love to be outdoors; I enjoy sporting activities like canoeing, hiking and running, but I also love the outdoors for more leisurely experiences like relaxing with my family by Lost Lake (in Shelton, WA), attending music festivals and concerts, and visiting local fairs to try new food and drink. I especially enjoy doing any of the aforementioned activities with a camera in hand! On a quiet night in, I love to color Johanna Basford books while listening to new album releases or NPR.

What brought you to SOWA?

Though we met in Chicago, my fiancé is from Burien and I fell in love with Washington within a few visits. After nearly six years working as the Education and Community Engagement Coordinator at the Goodman Theatre, I relocated to Washington to join the team at SOWA. I miss the theatre and working directly with youth and Chicago teachers, but I’m so excited to bring my skills in facilitation and administration to the statewide training team.

Tell us one thing you are proud of.

Completing my first Chicago Marathon last year. It may not be a unique achievement, but as someone who was never athletic growing up, it’s something I thought myself incapable of just a few years ago (and this year I’m going out for my second).

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