Y kids enjoying the Tillicum STEAM Night.

Experience the Best of the Best: Tillicum Before and After School Program

Expectational Staff and Strong Teamwork 

The Tillicum location is growing and the kids who join experience some of the best of what the Y has to offer. Site director Jacob Brask and site lead Irensia Topasna, function as a team to serve Y kids in our expanding program. Both are exceptional in reaching a compromise and discussing expectations around the various needs and wants that all the participants voice.

Meet Site Director Jacob Brask, a Passionate Future Educator  

Site director Jacob Brask is working towards a degree in Elementary Education, with the goal to one day be a 4 or 5th-grade teacher.  

“Throughout the year, children in my program have just come up to me to tell me that I’m their favorite teacher. That’s an awesome feeling because I didn’t know if I would be any good in this role, but that reassurance from the children makes me know I’m where I should be,” Brask shared enthusiastically. 

YMCA After School Participant smiling at the After School Tillicum Program
YMCA After School Tillicum participant working on homework.

Building Belonging and Inclusion Within the Classroom 

Inclusion and a sense of community are given top priority in Brask's classroom design. He concentrates on three main objectives: ensuring every child has enough personal space, preventing exclusion or isolation, and establishing an atmosphere that accommodates the number of kids in the program. By emphasizing these elements, he creates a teaching environment that promotes development, comprehension, and community. 

Going Above and Beyond Before and After School Programming 

Beyond his contributions to the Tillicum program, Brask is part of the Camp Cabinet, where site directors and leaders design engaging curricula for YMCA break camps, including summer day camp.  

“For summer day camp coming up, I was responsible for creating all the STEM activities, and I get the benefit of watching those STEM activities come to life,” shared Brask.  

 Jacob Brask site director supervising Y Kids at Tillicum STEAM Night.
Jacob Brask site director supervising Y Kids at Tillicum STEAM Night.

Meet Site Lead Irensia Topasna a Dedicated Future Educator 

Brask and site lead Irensia Topasna are unstoppable since they both share a passion for education.  

"I truly like getting to know each and every child,” said Topasna. “Sometimes, I ask random questions about them or myself to establish better relationships with one another.” 

Topasna demonstrates the YMCA's principles of cooperation, compassion, and excellence through open communication and a shared dedication to the welfare of the kids. With patience and compassion, she aids children in navigating their feelings, helps them emotionally regulate, and check in with themselves.  

For Topasna, one child in the program was displaying some aggression and frustration for losing or playing. With patience, Topasna slowly built a bond with the child. After a couple of weeks, they were demonstrating far less aggression and were implementing breathing exercises to cope with any overwhelming feeling.  

“I think they feel safe with me, and often they come to me whenever they feel sad or angry. It makes me want to be a teacher even more,” shared Topasna. 


Irensia Topasna site lead at the Tillicum location helping a child with homework.
Irensia Topasna site lead at the Tillicum location, helping a child with homework.

Discover More About Before and After School Programs 

At our Tillicum site staff share the priorities of providing a space for children to thrive and be themselves. With excellent staff like Jacob Brask and Irensia Topasna families can feel confident that their children are in safe hands. Explore more about our Child Care program!