The Most Effective Way to Get Teachers Excited About After School


Rebecca Stokes, Director of Auxiliary Programs at the University School of Nashville, recently joined the SPARC Effect podcast to share how she expanded her after school program. In the eight years since she took over, she has doubled its size, increasing and diversifying the activities available to meet the demands of students and families.

Rebecca emphasized the need to stay flexible and always ask yourself "what are we doing well and what do we need to change. This ability to adapt and to "look at everything with a creative mindset is what has kept us alive."

Part of the creative mindset of running after school is thinking of ways to get teachers excited to lead classes. Fully half of USN's classes are led by teachers--the other half by outside evendors--making teachers an integral part of the success of the program. Some of the most popular classes are taught by faculty, and some individual teachers have been working with after school for many years.

While the chance to earn extra compensation is always a plus, it isn't necessarily enough to motivate a teacher to join after school. Rebecca says it was at a SPARC conference session where she learned the most effective question to ask a teacher to get them on board with after school:

"What are you passionate about?"

“Ask them," Rebecca says, "what do you care about? What do you love? What is a passion they could share with students that they can’t necessarily do in the classroom?”

When asked what they would teach if they could teach anything, they can think outside the box and engage their own creative mindset. Rebecca has noticed that teachers enjoy the creativity and autonomy of putting together and implementing from scratch their own classes based on something they love to do.

In one example, Rebecca asked a math teacher what his passion was. When he mentioned that he loved strategy/role playing games, she said they should give it a try in after school. As an added bonus, the teacher offered his room as space for the class. The idea was a success, attracting a small but loyal and enthusiastic group of students.

Once a year, Rebecca has an "all-call" for interested teachers, but she says that most new classes result from one-on-one conversations. Once that connection is made and teachers start thinking about what they'd love to share, bringing them on board with after school becomes less of a challenge and results in a win for students, teachers, and program staff.

If you're looking to grow your after school program, check out SPARC's Functions of Auxiliary tool--The Auxiliary Director's Guide for Leading Up--for tactics to develop a strategic partnership with school leadership. Also valuable is SPARC's Internal Relationship Assessment Tool to reflect on how you're connecting with your school's teachers or with other departments.

Looking for tools, professional development, and community support as you lead and grow your auxiliary programs? Join SPARC today and receive a wealth of member benefits including all these and more!