Q+A with Chester A. Arthur Site Director Caleb Bodden!
Hey Caleb - we’re so excited to welcome you as our new site director at Chester A Arthur this year! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Charlotte, NC, but I have lived all over the east coast. I started working with kids while in college after founding a mentoring organization with a staff member and some of my classmates. Most of my experience working with students has been in after-school and summer camp programs. I really enjoy the flexibility with planning lessons and activities and the opportunity to build relationships with students in a more relaxed and fun atmosphere than school. What do you think is the core of a good afterschool program? What does a strong OST program need to be successful in your mind?
I had a single parent growing up, so throughout most of my childhood I was involved in afterschool programs. The thing I disliked most about those programs was that there was not much variety in the activities. It felt like everyday at afterschool was the same, and most of the time, it was not something I looked forward to. This is the opposite of what I want afterschool to feel like. I want afterschool to be a fun and exciting experience for the students, and to even feel like they are missing something on days they are absent.
You’ve done a lot of work with youth in your career - what are some of the most important things you’ve learned that you are bringing to your role as Chester A.’s new Site Director.
One of the most important things I learned from teaching is that I should always try to get feedback from my students and staff after completing an activity. I want to understand what the instructors thought, and whether the students enjoyed it or learned something. It is also important to make sure that I keep students engaged by finding challenging and new activities for them.
What’s your favorite part about working with kids? Do you have any specific favorite moments or experiences you’d like to share?
My favorite part of working with students is seeing their growth. When I taught English overseas, I would often have students who were very shy and afraid to speak or participate in class. Watching their confidence grow and seeing them become more active in class was always really special to me. I really enjoy working with students with behavioral struggles, and helping them learn to make better decisions or find different ways to to react to situations. I also really enjoy having conversations with students, as I often learn so much from them.
Do you have any ideas for cool new activities or partners you’d like to have your students exposed to at Chester A?
Recently I sat down with my staff to plan a number of STEM and art activities that we would like to do, as well as some field trips. I am also trying to have my kickboxing coach and a friend who teaches dance to do a lesson for the afterschool. I am really excited to get these planned and on the calendar soon.
What part of programming are you most excited for this year?
I am really excited about building relationships with my students and getting to know them better. I am also excited to do some of the activities my staff and I have planned. My staff were really excited about the ideas we came up with and I cannot wait to watch the students and staff learning and having fun with those activities!