Staff Spotlight: Meet Alona and Marlena, YMCA Harbor Height’s Dedicated After School Program Team
Within the lively atmosphere of a bustling classroom, children enthusiastically engage in conversations about the latest video games and their school experiences. A key element that defines this thriving environment is the carefully designed structure that the program offers to support and nurture each child's individual growth and development.
This purposeful and enriching learning environment is the result of a committed team of educators who recognize the value of providing a well-rounded and balanced experience for every child.
The YMCA before and after school program helps children discover their passions, develop social skills, and build confidence by incorporating a diverse array of activities and fostering a sense of community.
Both parents and staff recognize the incredible impact that this nurturing environment has on children's academic and personal development. As we continually evolve, we remain dedicated to empowering young minds, instilling a love of learning, and preparing kids for a prosperous future.
Alona: An Experienced Guide and Nurturer
Alona, a seasoned educator, has worked with the YMCA for 5 years, serving in a variety of capacities that navigate between the Peninsula School District and the Y as a paraeducator and Site Leader for Harbor Heights Elementary. She provides a distinct perspective and desire for the structure of the before and after school program based on her 23 years of experience in her home country.
Alona thinks that structure helps children achieve and employs the "zones of regulation" method to nurture their emotional well-being. With this in mind, Alona begins each day at the Y by questioning children about their feelings and assisting them in understanding that it is OK to have diverse emotions.
“This isn’t just a job I clock into; I take ownership of this program and how we treat and assist the children within our program. From the structured curriculum, free play, and checking in on their needs, we’re able to see the tangible growth of the children in Harbor Heights.”
Marlena: A Passionate Teacher and Natural Leader
Site Leader Marlena has been working with children since age 16. She joined the YMCA in 2019 and has held various positions, including overseeing Child Watch at Tom Taylor Family Y and as a Before and After School Lead Teacher. As a Pacific Islander from Guam, Marlena grew up in a family-oriented culture that emphasized the importance of caring for younger siblings.
Currently, Marlena is studying Elementary Education in hopes of becoming a teacher. With only a few more credits away, she is excited to take all her experience at the Y and apply it to her apprenticeship.
“Everything that I’m doing here is in preparation for me to become a teacher one day. Being here I get to experience the many personalities and grade levels and learn to adapt to each child’s needs.”
Nathan Kice, a parent at the Harbor Heights Before and After School program, has seen his child flourish academically and socially as a result of this dedication.
"Alona and Marlena are exceptional people who are patient, kind, and intelligent. They are dedicated to providing children with opportunities for growth and success. They go above and beyond for the children,” said Kice.
Ultimately, the team at the Harbor Heights Before and After School program's dedication and passion play a vital role in shaping the lives of the children in their care. Alona and Marlena both inspire confidence and self-development by creating a supportive and safe environment, which contributes to well-rounded, successful students within the Peninsula School District.