Professional Development

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Inclusion, Access, Growth: How Champions Supports Their Out-of-School Time Professionals

Wednesday, 12 April 2023 13:01

Teachers are the core of any great out-of-school time program. They bring curriculum to life, nurture their students’ natural curiosity, instill a love of learning, and help children explore the world around them. A good out-of-school time program recognizes the inherent value teachers bring to the program and provides these educators with the same level of support that they provide their students.

Champions, a member of the KinderCare Learning Companies’ family of brands, operates more than 800 before- and after-school programs in partnership with elementary and middle schools around the country. 

“At Champions, we know that our programs are only as good as the teachers and staff who lead them, which is why we focus so strongly on ensuring our teachers feel supported and valued,” said Josh Noda, Vice President of Operations for Champions. “Our philosophy focuses on 'by teachers, for teachers.' When we introduce a new program to our educators, they know it was created by or in collaboration with their peers, with their experience in mind.”

Here are four ways Champions supports their out-of-school time professionals.

Create a culture of inclusion. Staff need to feel welcomed and supported before they can create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for their students. In the past few years, Champions’ Professional Development Days have emphasized whole-teacher well-being and self-care. Champions also created Employee Resource Groups, voluntary groups for employees at all levels to share their lived experiences and foster community. In addition, all Champions teachers have access to an in-house team of early childhood education and development experts. When a student needs extra help, Champions teachers can contact the team for advice, resources, and support materials. Champions’ Inclusion Services team ensures each teacher can always present their best selves for the students who need their compassion and creativity the most.


Offer staff access to benefits. At Champions every employee, whether they are full- or part-time, is eligible to participate in a company-matching 401(k), a continuing education program, free mental and emotional health support, discounts and perks, and early access to their paycheck. All employees also receive heavily discounted tuition for child care at Champions programs and at KinderCare Learning Centers around the country.


Provide professional development opportunities to all employees. Every Champions employee takes part in two annual company-wide Professional Development Days to ensure they’re up to date on the latest program information and training. In addition, employees have access to a continuing education program that offers reimbursement for college and certification courses related to their career. Champions leaders also make sure to recognize outstanding staff through the company’s Quality Achievement Awards. The awards honor Champions site directors around the country who demonstrate high quality programs, teaching skills and exemplary dedication to their profession. Previous award winners have gone on to leadership roles within the organization, showing their peers that there are opportunities for advancement within the company. In the past two years, 80 percent of Champions’ National Support Center operational roles were filled by field employees. 


Nurture a culture where employees’ voices are heard. Champions employees participate in an annual survey, conducted by Gallup, to measure their engagement to the work they do and to their company. Questions such as “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day,” and “In the last six months, someone at work has talked to be about my progress,” give both managers and company leaders insight into what employees need to do their best at work. Those annual survey results are then used to inform decisions and make changes in visible and meaningful ways, demonstrating to employees that their voices are heard and their feedback is used to create change in their workplace. Gallup research found highly engaged workers result in fewer negative outcomes and greater success for organizations.


“Our teachers and staff are passionate about supporting the children in their programs each and every day. We owe it to them to be just as committed in our support for them as they are for their students,” said Noda.

For more insight into how to support your out of school time professionals to be their best for students, please visit