New York State Network so youth Success, July 2019 newsletter spotlight section.
Community Schools, Site Leader, and Power of 3:00July 2019
Hamad Alghareeb, Universal Pre-K Program Assistant Director Growing up, Hamad Alghareeb did not find traditional schooling engaging, or at times even relevant. Hamad said, “I thrived on extracurricular activities, afterschool programs, and summer camps that gave me the choice of what to learn and had a more of a hands-on learning approach.” This is how Hamad’s interest working in the afterschool, summer, and expanded learning field began.
Hamad ended up volunteering and working at the same afterschool and summer programs he attended. Afterwards, he became a full-time Youth Program Specialist. Hamad stated, “I had a career shift towards education and youth development.”
After exploring his skills, passions, motivations and career options, Hamad looked further into education with a purpose in order to make learning more relevant and enjoyable. Hamad added, “I believe that students learn differently and they are only waiting for someone to unlock their learning potential so that they would be productive and responsible global citizens. We live in an ever-changing world, and that requires our educational systems, schools, and policies to keep up with the change to help students for relevant real-world success.” Hamad believes expanded learning takes the students out of the traditional education environment and provides additional accessible learning opportunities for success.
Currently, Hamad works as a Universal Pre-K Program Assistant Director. He co-manages and supervises 16 classrooms in six different schools at the City School District of Albany. Hamad noted, “Providing accessible programming for students and families is a shared vision between Universal Pre-Kindergarten and expanded learning time field. Pre-Kindergarten is not classified as a universal human right globally. Therefore, not all schools and/or school districts provide Pre-K opportunities. We work with school districts and state or federal grants to provide such necessary educational opportunities for students to enable them to succeed in their subsequent schooling experience.”
Hamad also told us about a new sub-program that his organization has started this year called “Book Nook”. It is a program that promotes both literacy, reading, and community engagement, where they invite community members to read to the Pre-K students during both school and afterschool hours. Hamad told us, “We find that the interaction between our diverse body of young students and our guests encourages our students to use their academic and social emotional skills with individuals outside of their comfort zone. At the same time it exposes community members to the importance of Pre-Kindergarten and expanded learning time.”
Hamad believes that the benefits of afterschool are endless as students who attend afterschool programs tend to score higher in ELA and Math academically and have better social and emotional skills than their peers who don’t attend such programs. They also access more opportunities that could lead them to reach their potential, be their best authentic self, and be successful productive citizens in the future. He added, “students gets the chance to be in a safe environment, work on their academics, and interact with responsible and caring adults. In addition, all of our afterschool programs provide free snacks and dinner, so no child will go to bed hungry.”
When asked what his favorite part of his job is, Hamad responded, “my favorite part about my job is seeing the tremendous growth of all of these students during the span of one year. When I hear that a Pre-K student who attended our Pre-K program in 1998, and later our afterschool programs, is now in college and interested in a career in human development, I know that this world is going to be a better place in the future.”