Kelly Whaley, program manager of Cranston Community Learning Center, was recently selected to serve as an after-school ambassador by the Afterschool Alliance. Whaley is one of 12 ambassadors selected from across the country who will serve a one-year term assisting the alliance in creating additional support for after-school programs. Whaley, who serves 200 students in Cranston’s public schools, holds bachelor’s degrees in public relations and communications, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island.
PBN: How long have you been working in after-school programs, and what is it about your work you enjoy?
WHALEY: I have been working in the after-school field for almost three years now. One part of my job I enjoy most is collaborating with members of the community and school personnel. Whether it be advocating together for our programs or building relationships that enable us to better service students, it is always exciting to work with people who are equally committed to effecting positive change. But, really, I have to say, the kids are pretty awesome, too.
PBN: Why do afterschool programs need support from their communities?
WHALEY: After-school programs are an incredible resource to the communities they serve. Not only for students, but also for schools and working families. After-school programs can engage students in learning in fun and innovative ways that can bolster their academic achievement in the regular school day. But also, [after-school programs are] a safe place parents can trust their children are having fun, being productive and engaging in positive and enriching opportunities while they are at work.
PBN: Now that you’re an ambassador, what kinds of plans are in the works for your term?
WHALEY: First, I am working with the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance to highlight Cranston’s after-school programs. ... I will continue to advocate for after-school [programs] throughout my entire term as ambassador. I look forward to working with the school community and the state’s afterschool network to raise awareness of the incredible need for more quality after-school programs that better service our youth and families. •