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!



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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].

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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.


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