I found myself drawn back to January 2011 when Beyond the Bell didn't exist.
It is crazy humbling to think about the 43 Team Leaders and countless teachers, Beyond enrichment leaders, community partners and volunteers who have shared their time, passion, expertise and gifts with the more than 1,000 young people we have served since that time.
We have created a network of caring adults who are champions for young people, have broadened the definition of 'teacher', and who believe in the power and impact of an expanded learning day and increasing opportunity for ALL our young people. And who have helped our young people discover new interests, develop self-confidence and create a vision for their future that is filled with hope and belief.
I am more motivated than ever to continue building this network, and creating an entire pathway of out-of-school learning opportunities for our kids in Harrisonburg that level the playing field and empower and equip each of our young people to reach their full potential.
We need to do better. We need less talk and excuses and more action. We need to both prioritize better AND we need to invest more dollars in quality extended learning (pre-school, after-school and summer) opportunities that reach the students who need it most.
As Frederick Douglas once said, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
I will show up to the last day of Beyond the Bell this year filled with pride, joy and gratitude for the transformative impact we have had on young people in our community and for how we have advanced the conversation about the need for quality extended learning opportunities.
I have faith that this is just the end of chapter one, not the book. #letsdothis
Brent has led out of school time programs since 2006. First with Citizen Schools (2006-2010) followed by Beyond the Bell (2011-present). He has a M.Ed. with a specialization in out of school learning & leadership.