Hyde County Schools’ Nancy Leach selected as one of 16 Afterschool Ambassadors in United States

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022

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The Afterschool Alliance announced on Monday, April 4 that Nancy Leach, program director at the Hyde 21st Century Community Learning Center, has been selected to serve as an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance in 2022. She is one of just 16 leaders across the country chosen for the honor this year.

Afterschool Ambassadors continue their work with local afterschool programs while serving a one-year Afterschool Ambassador term, organizing public events, communicating with policy makers and community leaders and in other ways increasing awareness and support for afterschool and summer learning programs.

“We are thrilled that Nancy Leach will serve as an Afterschool Ambassador this year,” said Afterschool Alliance executive director Jodi Grant. “The pandemic has had a profound effect on children and youth, and the afterschool community has a vital role to play in helping everyone recover lost ground. That will require support of all kinds, and we need strong advocates who know their communities to lead the charge. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help give working families peace of mind. They offer hands-on learning, opportunities to think critically and collaborate, homework help, mentors, science and technology, healthy snacks and meals, sports and fitness, arts programming, college and job prep, and much more – and students need all that more than ever.”

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“I am eager to join the Afterschool Alliance in building support for afterschool programs that support the whole child,” said Leach. “Over the last two years, afterschool and summer learning programs have provided critical services to kids and families, and we have more work to do as we recover. Our kids have ground to make up – not just in academics, but in their social and emotional development, as well. I’m proud to be part of the afterschool movement and thrilled to have a chance to serve as an Afterschool Ambassador for North Carolina.”

The Hyde 21st Century Community Learning Center is a component of Hyde County Schools, where Leach also serves at the director of student services. The program serves 200 children in afterschool programs at two unique sites: Swan Quarter, located on mainland Hyde County, and Ocracoke, flanked by the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Ocean 28 miles east of mainland Hyde.

With federal funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the program is able to offer an afterschool program, summer program, programming for families and adult education. The afterschool program offers academic support and enrichment in STEM, arts, social emotional learning and health and wellness. The Hyde 21st CCLC programming is enhanced by partnerships with the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health, as well as faculty from the North Carolina School of Science & Math and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Each Afterschool Ambassador will organize a major event for Lights On Afterschool, the Afterschool Alliance’s annual rally for afterschool programs. Most of the thousands of local Lights On Afterschool events will be on or around October 20, 2022.

The 2022 Afterschool Ambassadors are:

  • Homer, Alaska: Jane Beck, executive director, Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula
  • Glendale, Arizona: Manny Padia, recreation coordinator senior, City of Glendale Public Facilities, Recreation, & Special Events Department
  • Leadville, Colorado: Taylor Trelka, out of school time director, Project Dream with the Lake County School District
  • Middletown, Connecticut: Mackenzie Steadman, school age and youth program coordinator, Middlesex YMCA Kids’ Korner Before and Afterschool Programs
  • District of Columbia: Andrew Blickle, community engagement manager, Life Pieces To Masterpieces
  • Sioux City, Iowa: Jenna Andrews, program director, Beyond the Bell
  • Wichita, Kansas: Jennifer Hartman, program manager, Wichita Public Schools STEALTH Afterschool
  • Belmont, Massachusetts: Arthur Pearson, chief executive officer, Thompson Island Outward Bound
  • Jackson, Mississippi: Monique Ealey, director of education and programs, Mississippi Children’s Museum
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: Sil Ganzó, executive director, ourBRIDGE for KIDS
  • Ocracoke, North Carolina: Nancy Leach, program director, Hyde 21st Century Community Learning Center, Hyde County Schools
  • Norman, Oklahoma: Michael Hirsch, executive director, Loveworks Leadership
  • Medford, Oregon: Crystal Ehlig, director of the Campus Connection Afterschool program, Rogue Valley Family YMCA
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: Angel Gomez, community program manager, YouthCity – Fairpark
  • Charleston, West Virginia: Michael Farmer, chief operations officer, Step By Step WV
  • Fairmont, West Virginia: Shannon Yost, program manager, Flipside Afterschool Program 

The 2020 America After 3PM household survey of more than 30,000 families, commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance and conducted before the pandemic, found that unmet demand for afterschool programs has reached an all-time high. For every child in an afterschool program in America today, three more are waiting to get in. Evidence demonstrates improvements in grades, school attendance, behavior and more among children who participate in afterschool programs. Researchers have also found that students in afterschool programs are more engaged in school and excited about learning and develop critical work and life skills such as problem solving, teamwork and communications.