Join NJSACC in congratulating New Jersey’s own National AfterSchool Association Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders 2021!
DANIELLE SARSGARD, GABRIELLA ST. FLEUR & TIMOTHY ZOYAC
The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) highlights emerging young leaders who are active in the broader afterschool community, demonstrate contributions that have started to influence beyond individual programs to entire organizations and communities, are actively engaged in efforts to elevate the afterschool field, have a proven passion for development of themselves and others, and demonstrate persistence in their work to grow as leaders. Meet New Jersey’s honorees below:
Director and Health and Safety Ambassador
Champions | Lacey, New Jersey
What Danielle loves about the afterschool field and the work that she does:
“I love Dr. Seuss and my favorite week of the school year is Dr. Seuss week. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss is “Don’t give up. I believe in you all. A person’s a person no matter how small.” I work with children grades K-6 and this is a key time in developing the foundation to their future. I think it is so important to recognize the talents of each and every child and help them grow by providing the encouragement, support and resources necessary to succeed. I believe giving positive reinforcement is so important. All of my children know that I believe in them and anything is possible with a little bit of practice and the right mindset. Whether you are in kindergarten, sixth grade, in your twenties or fifties, anything is possible when you set your mind to it and have a great support system cheering you on.
During COVID, a lot of people are struggling with their mental wellbeing. I’ve made it my personal goal to ensure that each and every child in my program leaves with a smile on their face, laughed at least twice and received positive feedback. If a child is feeling sad or having a hard day, I have a special comfort table set up to have a private conversation and figure out how we can turn their day around. Our children say that coming to Champions is the best part of their day and I couldn’t agree more. Coming to Champions and seeing all of the smiling faces (underneath the masks) is the best part of my day too!”
School Age Child Care and Summer Camp Director
Metuchen YMCA | Metuchen, New Jersey
What Gabriella loves about the afterschool field and the work that she does:
“Treat a child as though he or she already is the person they are capable of becoming”
I am proud that throughout my years I have upheld my commitment to making difference in the lives of children every day. I am happy to be in an organization which allows me to be a part of a community that focuses on creating a safe space for children to learn and grow. I strive daily to provide high quality programs for children ages 5-17 by incorporating enrichments that provide STEM learning and Social Emotional Learning. I am proud of being able to keep kids in an organization like the YMCA once they have aged out of our child care programs. Giving them the outlet with programs such as Leaders Club and Youth and Government is extremely important for their growth and development. I see the impact of my work daily. I see a weight being lifted off of parents shoulders when they drop their child off every day. I see the gratitude and thanks of the children who cannot seem to find a missing homework assignment. I see the love of a child who says “I had the best day ever at the YMCA”. I see kids who walk through the door shy laughing with others begging to stay longer! I have seen children who have tried things that they probably would not have had the chance to try without the YMCA. I believe that the hard work of my staff and I never goes without thanks. Knowing that there is a community that relies on you and appreciates all is enough for me. I do what I do because I love it. I would not change a thing!
Pathways 21st CCLC-Bridgeton Public Schools | Bridgeton, New Jersey
What Timothy loves about the afterschool field and the work that he does:
“I love that the afterschool field allows our students the opportunity to be in a safe environment, cared for and given things that will help them grow physically, emotionally and academically. I fell in love with the arts in the district that I currently work in and I am so excited and happy that I get to bring my students multiple artforms to hopefully fall in love with the same way that I did!”
Honorees will be profiled in the Spring 2021 issue of NAA’s AfterSchool Today magazine. Upon publication, a digital edition of the magazine may be viewed here.
Thank you and Congratulations Danielle, Gabriella and Timothy!