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STCC course readies students for ‘Out of School’ child care

Springfield Technical Community College this spring will offer a course that addresses a growing need: how to educate and care for children when school isn’t happening.

Conor J. Bevan, the director of program development for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, will teach the new class, called Out of School Time.

While the need to enrich and provide care for children when they’re not in school has been growing over the past several years, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace and demand for educators, Bevan said. “What we’re seeing now in our field is really fascinating,” Bevan said. “You have virtual or remote public school education. You have a growing need for child care, and you have the vast majority of parents unable to stay at home with their child. It creates a tremendous burden on them.”

Often, parents face the difficult choice of working or staying at home to support their child. In many cases, it’s an “impossible choice” because parents cannot afford not to work, Bevan said.

Bevan said organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club offer “out of school time” childcare services and programs and face a growing demand for trained educators. The STCC course, which is designed to help meet the demand, is an elective that is part of the Early Childhood Education Transfer degree program, but is open to anyone.

Bevan said the course focuses on supervision, safety, program quality and operations.

“We’re trying to teach students to become youth development professionals, and give them an understanding that this is a critical time in a child’s life,” Bevan said. “We serve as a primary link between academic support, enrichment activities, physical health and nutrition, especially now more so than ever. With schools being remote, our industry has operated almost as a pseudo school.”

Richard Greco, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at STCC, said the pandemic has highlighted the need to find ways to support children when school is not in session.

“We know that parents have a need to find a place for their kids to go when they’re working,” Greco said. “Our goal was to offer a course with somebody who has firsthand experience in this field to give STCC students a great education on how to develop curriculums, make sure students are safe and have nutritious food in front of them.”

Greco thought Bevan would be an ideal instructor for the class after reading a profile of him in a local media outlet. Bevan, who grew up in Holyoke, spent time as a child at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke as well as the Greater Holyoke YMCA. He gained an appreciation of programs and services designed to enrich the lives of young people when they weren’t in school.

“I’m a proud product of the out-of-school-time industry,” Bevan said. “I really leaned on my lessons that I learned in the out-of-school-time world to propel my career professionally as well as personally.”

The spring semester at STCC starts Jan. 25.

To enroll in the class or apply to be a student at STCC, visit stcc.edu/apply or call Admissions at 413-755-4812. For questions about the Out of School Time class, email Aimee Dalenta at adalenta@stcc.edu or Jennifer Wallace- Johnson at jwjohnson@stcc.edu.

Conor J. Bevan, director of program development for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, will teach STCC’s Out of School Time.

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