Dori Carson knows all about the After the Bell program at Kennett Middle School.
Two of her children attended the free afterschool activities the program provides each year, and all three volunteered as program facilitators. Even Carson herself has volunteered over the years, hosting a quilting and web design class.
So it seemed to her a perfect fit when she heard they were looking for a new program director.
'It's amazing that every child who signs up has a free healthy snack, free activities and a free ride home if they need it,' Carson said. 'And no child is excluded for cost or ability to transport or any of those other things that block children.'
Carson said she was looking for a position that would – in her friend's words – 'put a fire in her belly' after so many years in the workforce.
'When I heard about this I thought, wow this is so near and dear to my heart,' she said. 'And when I contacted them, I knew 50 percent of the board members. So I thought, well this is it. This is the kind of job where, at the end of the day, I've done a good thing.'
Carson has a professional background in education, with a focus on adult education and job readiness. She has worked with many inner city students and has previously taught job skills at Delaware County Community College for seven years. Carson also has a background in web development. She has lived in the Kennett area for the past 15 years, is a current borough resident and is a self-professed geek.
Working in the education field, she said, has brought her much satisfaction, as she identifies it as a key element in anyone's development.
'I believe that knowledge is power. And when we educate people we empower them,' she said.
As program director, Carson said that she essentially takes on a principal role among the volunteers and the attendees once the bell rings and the sessions begin.
'I am the on-site and go-to person for all 60 volunteers each session and 100 kids each day,' she said.
She also enjoys direct contact with the children who participate in the program on a daily basis – an aspect of the job which she said she particularly loves.
The program offers activities in three six-week cycles, offering kids a diverse array of activities for each session, with between 15 and 18 different such activities per day three days a week.
'We have a rubric so that we make sure there is a gender balance, that there's an active and sedentary activity balance, and that our numbers match so that we have enough activities,' she said. 'There's 208 volunteers each year that help pull this off, and that is incredible for a community that size.'
For more information on the non-profit After the Bell program or its founding body, the Kennett After School Association, visit www.afterthebell.org.