Kimberly Clark

Gear Up for SummerZone: Summer Enrichment Program

It’s that time of the year again: summer is approaching, students are anxiously awaiting its arrival and parents are searching for a safe environment for their children to learn and have fun during the summer break.

Gear Up for SummerZone: Summer Enrichment Program

Our SummerZone summer enrichment program is designed to engage students in exciting learning experiences as well as prevent the summer “brain drain“. Each summer, we select a special theme for students to explore, and this summer they are joining the Alpha-Agency! Students will experience fitness, technology arts, drama, music, foreign language and team building as they unlock a series of mysteries around the globe.

Do you think your child will enjoy being a detective for the summer? View our SummerZone locations and registration dates. We promise your child an action-packed summer vacation!

Website Redesign Features Clean, Responsive Design

Spring connotes “growth” and “rebirth”, so with the season in full swing, we are excited to announce our website redesign! Based on user feedback and extensive testing, the new design features improvements in functionality and user experience. The clean, modern design better represents AlphaBEST’s commitment to cutting edge curriculum and innovative expanded learning programs.

Alphabest website redesign features user-friendly, responsive design


New Features and Updates

The main goal was to ensure that visitors could navigate and perform functions throughout the site with ease. As a result, the new design is more intuitive for parents, school administrators, educators and others who visit the site. The website redesign includes the following new features and updates:

  • Enhanced content allows parents, school districts, vendors and other partners to easily access information about our curriculum and program offerings.
  • With our new ‘Locations’ feature, parents can easily search for AlphaBEST programs in their area.
  • A revamped registration portal simplifies the enrollment process for families, allowing them to bypass our third-party registration system and re-register through the website.
  • The updated Employee portal grants staff access to important forms, training resources, new hire information and more.
  • With the new responsive design, visitors can view the website whether they’re using a mobile device, laptop or desktop computer.

Go on, explore our website redesign and view the new features for yourself!

Read the full release.


AlphaBEST in the News: Shawnta Jones Joins a Panel Discussion at the Center for American Progress

Our very own Shawnta Jones was invited to join Senator Hillary Clinton and other political leaders yesterday for a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C.  In June, Shawnta was invited to the 2014 White House Summit on Working Families to discuss 21st century workplaces for today’s working families, alongside President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

AlphaBEST at Center for American Progress for Progress for Women

As a group, they discussed the challenge many women face of making ends meet and caring for their families. More and more women are now breadwinners, with nearly 6 out of 10 women as the primary, sole or co-provider for their family. Shawnta, who is currently an AlphaBEST site manager in Charles County, MD, had the opportunity to share how she was able to provide for her family, go to college and be a great role model for her children thanks to AlphaBEST Education Early Childhood Program and government subsidies. Just as important, her three children have significantly benefited from their start at AlphaBEST and are flourishing as honor roll students!

We are extremely proud that Shawnta was able to share her story on a public platform, and helped shed light on an issue that many women face today. It also emphasizes the impact we all make in the lives of the families in our programs.

AlphaBEST selfie with Hillary Clinton at the Center for American Progress

You can view the discussion below. Fast-forward to 34:00 to hear Shawnta’s story. FYI: She’s sitting beside Senator Clinton!



Image sources:


5 Ways to Motivate Language Learning

“Teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness.” – Zoltán Dörnyei

There’s no denying the positive impact language learning has on students. Research shows that learning a second language improves cognitive skills and enhances mental development, leading to overall improvement in school performance. Despite its benefits, however, students may not fully understand the value of language learning, which could lead to disengagement and low achievement.

5 ways to motivate language learning


 Therefore, a more effective question is how educators can foster student engagement and help students achieve a high level of success when learning a second language. A recent article by the Guardian suggests, “the secret to [learning a second language] is rooted in the science of motivation,” and “most people who succeed at learning another language turn out to be strongly motivated.” And according to Zoltán Dörnyei, an expert on motivation in second-language learning, motivation is contagious, and a learner’s motivation depends largely on the level of interest and involvement of their fellow learners and instructors.

Simply stated, motivation is the key to language learning. The next step is deciding the best ways to foster it. The following tips can help educators increase student motivation and deepen language learning:

  • Display enthusiasm. Demonstrate a commitment to and interest in the language, which will impact students’ behavior and their enthusiasm to learn.
  • Establish a safe and supportive learning atmosphere. Learning environments should be organized, well managed and supportive in order to provide students with ample opportunities to learn. Language learning isn’t simple; therefore, students should feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes without ridicule from fellow learners.
  • Make the curriculum relevant to students. Discover their goals and the topics in which they are interested, and try to incorporate them into the language-learning activities.
  • Diversify instructional methods. Students learn in different ways, and educators can use multiple strategies to help students master a second language. A key factor is allowing students to discover the best methods and techniques for themselves.
  • Create meaningful learning experiences. Use tools, such as Skype in the Classroom, to connect with a group of students that speaks the language your students are learning. Building relationships with native speakers is a great way to increase students’ motivation to learn. Students can also role-play situations in which they would need to speak and understand the language, like shopping at the market or asking for directions.

In order for students to achieve language-learning success, educators must implement engaging, student-focused instructional strategies to foster motivation. To learn more, check out, “Wanting it enough: why motivation is the key to language learning.”

AlphaBEST in the News: White House Summit on Working Families + CGI America 2014

2014 White House Summit on Working Families

AlphaBEST Shawnta Jones at the 2014 White House Summit on Working Families

Over a thousand government leaders, advocates, employers and more gathered for the 2014 White House Summit on Working Families on June 23 to focus on creating 21st century workplaces for today’s working families. Along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama delivered remarks during the summit, highlighting “paid leave” and “improved child care” as solutions to supporting working families.

To further demonstrate the importance of workplace flexibility, representatives of working families were invited to discuss how innovative and supportive workplaces have impacted their lives. Shawnta Jones from AlphaBEST Child Care Center in Port Tobacco, MD, was invited to introduce the Caregiving breakout panel during the summit. Shawnta, whose son has been attending AlphaBEST Child Care Center since he was eight weeks old, discussed how AlphaBEST has helped her manage work and life by providing a safe, healthy learning environment for her family while allowing her to pursue higher education and contribute to her family’s self sufficiency.

Watch the video below to hear Shawnta’s story (start at 1:20):

Clinton Global Initiative 2014

Hillary Clinton at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Our Executive Vice President Judy Nee was invited to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative on June 23-25 as a part of the STEM in Education workgroup. This year, CGI America focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States. Within the STEM in Ed. workgroup, Judy also participated in a discussion about STEM in after school/out of school time, which included leaders from the philanthropic, research and programmatic communities.  As a group, they discussed a vision for STEM in after school and formulated a plan to engage all stakeholders in raising students’ awareness of and exposure to STEM-related careers and activities.

AlphaBEST Education Judy Nee on Clinton Global Initiative 2014

To learn more about the mission behind CGI America, check out: 5 Ways CGI America Commitments Are Turning Ideas Into Action [INFOGRAPHIC].

Image source


The Benefits of a Music Education [INFOGRAPHIC]

There is so much more to music than what meets the ear! Learning music at an early age aids in physical, social-emotional and brain development. The benefits of a music education includes increased academic achievement, enhanced fine motor skills, increased self-esteem and improved problem-solving skills. Despite their many advantages, music education programs are suffering from school budget cuts, and children are missing out on the benefits of music learning. The University of Florida created the following infographic to display the positive impacts that music education has on both the students and the educator.

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Feature: She’s all business about after-school education

Our Executive VP and General Manager Judy Nee was recently featured in the business section of The Palm Beach Post to share her experience as one of the top professionals in the afterschool field. This article was originally published at

She’s all business about after-school education

AlphaBEST executive vice president Judy Nee was recently featured in the Palm Beach Post business section

Judy Nee is the vice president and general manager for education company AlphaBEST Education. The company provides after-school programs for school districts around the country.

She was recently recognized by the National After School Association as one of the Top 25 People in After School.

AlphaBEST operates after-school programs at three Palm Beach County middle schools: Conniston, Osceola Creek and Lake Shore. Those programs are funded with a grant from the Florida Department of Education. The programs are a partnership with the Palm Beach County School District’s Safe Schools Department.

Nee is based in Palm Beach County, and the firm’s corporate headquarters are in North Carolina.

Name: Judy Nee

Age: 52

Hometown: Ledyard, Conn.

Town you call home now: Palm Beach Gardens (22 years!)

Family: Husband Joe is a teacher; daughter Megan, 11.

About your company: AlphaBEST Education has $17 million in revenue, serving 8,000 students in 150 schools in 10 states. We have 900 employees. AlphaBEST provides an after-school educational program that expands and enriches student experiences through a unique modular curriculum and teaching approaches that can be a catalyst for student and school improvement.

First paying job and what you learned from it: New accounts clerk at a local bank. I learned about the importance of relationships in business and how to treat customers to earn their loyalty.

First break in business: As the first director of the Palm Beach County After School Consortium, I was charged with learning everything I could about the after-school field nationally, and bringing it back to Palm Beach County. In this role, I established a connection with leading individuals and organizations from around the country.

How did you make the transition from the nonprofit world? What was the takeaway? It was easier than I expected. I was concerned that the business focus would outweigh the educational – but that wasn’t the case. Just as in my experience in nonprofit work, I found that if you build the best programs available, the business – and funding – will follow. That’s been my experience at AlphaBEST Education. We’ve grown over 60 percent in the last three years.

Best business book you ever read: “Good to Great,” Jim Collins.

Best piece of business advice you ever received: “Not everyone thinks like you do – figure out how to share your vision.”

Many successful people learn from failure. Do you have a failure you can share and what you learned from it? When I first moved to Palm Beach County, I accepted a job that wasn’t the right fit for me – but I thought I could make it work. I couldn’t. Once I starting doing what I was really passionate about – my career began to grow and expand naturally.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Palm Beach County is one of the most desirable places in the country to live. If we can compete educationally – the future is bright. We need to continue to focus on innovation in our schools and stay current with student needs and interests.

Power lunch spot: Café Centro.

Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office: Traveling and spending time with my daughter.

Favorite smartphone app: My Fitness Pal

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Strong relational skills and a willingness to learn.


Image source

SummerZone: Preventing the Brain Slide

We’ve all heard the staggering statistics: most students who do not engage in educational activities during the summer lose about two months of grade-level math skills. The numbers are even worse among low-income students, who also lose more than two months in reading achievement. These students are also more likely to gain weight at a faster rate during summer break.

AlphaBEST SummerZone summer learning programs are designed to prevent the summer brain slide.Fortunately, summer learning programs have been developed to prevent the loss of academic knowledge over summer break, also known as the summer brain slide. Research has proven that high-quality summer learning programs improve students’ academic achievement and readiness to learn. These programs are designed to excite and motivate students through enriching learning experiences.

AlphaBEST’s summer learning programs expand on the model of our school-year programs. During SummerZone, students receive extra time to investigate the five curriculum zones – technology, fitness, the arts, foreign language and literacy. This summer, students will explore a different U.S. state each week through ‘virtual travel’ including creative and engaging activities designed to build new knowledge, skills and talents. They will play innovative games, collaborate on group-learning projects and engage in fun recreational activities. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students to be inspired, discover and learn over the critical summer months.

To find a SummerZone program in your area, visit

5 Tips for Celebrating National Principals Month

School principals have tough jobs. When you are responsible for hundreds of students and parents, dozens of staff, and countless stakeholders in the community – including those in afterschool programs – maintaining order is a constant challenge. From teacher evaluations to handling serious discipline issues, principals have various responsibilities and are rarely appreciated for their work.

5 tips for celebrating school principals

October is National Principals MonthIt’s an opportunity to say “thank you” to principals everywhere and honor their hard work and dedication. After school professionals should mark this special month to recognize and show appreciation for the support principals provide in helping to assure their programs are aligned with the school’s curricula in order to provide seamless, high-quality learning experiences for children and youth. But how can you acknowledge their work in a way that would be meaningful and memorable for a principal?

Dr. Paul Young, author of Principal Matters and Lead the Way! (and a past president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals) suggests these five strategies:

  1. Plan a celebratory program or assembly. Principals often plan events for others, but rarely does anyone plan one for them. To make it special, allow the kids themselves (with your supervision and guidance) to plan, organize and play key roles in expressing their appreciation for their principal. Effective principals are kid-focused, and seeing and hearing what their students feel about them and their support of the after school program will be certain to touch their hearts. Together with your students, don’t limit your imagination. Good planning and execution will make this program unique, remarkable and unforgettable!
  2. Give them flowers. Anyone can buy flowers from a florist. Instead, allow your students and staff to make their own flowers as a special art project. These will likely receive a more prominent display in the principal’s office and generate more conversation than anything you might purchase. And the special thought will last much longer.
  3. Give them candy. But wait, candy might not fit your program’s healthy eating guidelines. Be creative and make “candy” into a healthy snack or celebratory food that can be made, served and shared with the principal by the students in your program.
  4. Sing their praises. Music touches the soul. What you can’t easily say about your principal in words, do with music. Create your own song, jingle or rap, or cover a recognizable song or tune that the kids can easily perform.
  5. Share the celebration. Encourage students to create special invitations to the program for the principal and invited guests. Encourage kids to make their own awards and certificates of appreciation. Then, don’t fail to capture the special celebratory moments on video to archive and share in a variety of ways through social media and other outlets.

Creating fun and celebratory experiences should be a regular feature of after school programming. They provide opportunities for kids and adults to showcase what is best about after school. Principals relish genuine and heartfelt appreciation. Let them know how your program – and their support of it – is remarkable!

Image source

The NAA Top 25 Most Influential People in Afterschool

We would like to congratulate our Executive Vice President and General Manager, Judy Nee, for being honored as one of the top 25 most influential people in afterschool! With more than 20 years of experience in afterschool care and extended learning programs, the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) selected Nee for her positive attention and investment to the afterschool field. Judy Nee of AlphaBEST Education named among top 25 most influential people in afterschool Since joining AlphaBEST Education in 2011, Nee has helped expand afterschool programming to more than 8,000 students in nine different states. Outside of the office, she acts as Chair of the Coalition for Science After School, consultant to the Noyce Foundation and Board Member of the Florida Afterschool Network and the National AfterSchool Association. Nee’s strong leadership and relentless advocacy have played an invaluable role in AlphaBEST’s continued growth and success, and we are truly privileged to have her as part of our team! Judy Nee was recognized in a special edition of AfterSchool Today, alonside the other NAA honorees. Below is a full list of those who were honored:

  • MATTHEW BOULAY | Founder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Summer Learning
  • JIM CLARK | President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • JESSICA DONNER | Director, Every Hour Counts
  • TERRI FERINDE DUNHAM |Partner, Collaborative Communications / Lead, National Network of Statewide Afterschool NetworkNAA top 25 most influential people in afterschool
  • AYEOLA FORTUNE | Director, Education Team, United Way Worldwide
  • LUCY N. FRIEDMAN | Founding President, TASC (The After-School Corporation)
  • ELLEN S. GANNETT, M.ED. | Director, National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College
  • JODI GRANT | Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance
  • ROBERT HALPERN | Professor and Chair of Research Council, Erikson Institute
  • CLIFF JOHNSON | Executive Director, Institute for Youth, Education and Families, National League of Cities
  • SYLVIA LYLES, PhD | Director, Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs, U.S. Department of Education
  • JIM MURPHY | Senior Manager, Child and Youth Development Program, Council on Accreditation
  • JUDY NEE | Executive Vice President and General Manager, AlphaBEST Education, Inc.
  • NEIL NICOLL | President and CEO, YMCA of the USA
  • GIL NOAM, Ed.D, PhD | Founder and Director, Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency, Harvard University
  • BEN PAUL | President and CEO, After-School All-Stars
  • TERRY PETERSON, PhD | Director, Afterschool and Community Learning Network
  • SAM PIHA | Founder and Principal, Director, Temescal Associates, Learning in Afterschool & Summer Project
  • KAREN J. PITTMAN | President and CEO, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • SHANNON RUDISILL | Director, Office of Child Care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • CARLA SANGER, M.ED. | President and CEO, LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program
  • JENNIFER SIRANGELO | President and CEO, National 4-H Council
  • CHARLES SMITH, PhD | Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
  • DEBORAH LOWE VANDELL | Founding Dean, School of Education, University of California Irvine
  • TOM WYATT | Chief Executive Officer, Knowledge Universe-United States

Image Source: