Right At School partners with districts around the country to provide enrichment programs that inspire a love of learning, support schools, and give parents peace of mind. Every single aspect of our work and our partnerships centers around a collective desire to positively impact the lives of children–from our own staff, to the schools, students and families we serve. In this ongoing series, we are spotlighting some of the amazing people on our team who are the very heart of what we do everyday. When a group of people are working together with a shared sense of purpose, they build trust, form strong relationships, and become a community.
Recently, Vice President of School Partnerships Cindy Lawson shared how her love of children, and experiences as a parent and care provider led her to find her community at Right At School.
I have always had a passion for working with children, and I’ve spent my entire career caring for, educating, and supporting them. As a teenager, I babysat for all of the kids in my neighborhood. I also worked for an after school program where several of the San Francisco 49ers sent their children, and I ended up babysitting for many of them. Some amazing relationships came out of that time, and they became like family. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the 49ers, and for every family whose children I cared for. That time in my life really set me on a career path in care and education, making an impact for children and families. After earning my degree and teaching credential, I started teaching third grade.
I loved teaching, but when I became a parent myself, I could no longer couldn’t afford childcare on a starting teacher’s salary. But I really wanted to stay in education, so I went into the out-of-school-time field, where I worked in operations for 17 years.
One day I got a call from a former supervisor who asked me to join Right At School. The company’s mission to inspire a love of learning, support schools, and give parents peace of mind aligned perfectly to my entire career to that point. But it was the people that really made me realize Right At School was where I needed to be. As soon as I started, I felt a strong sense of belonging. There was an enthusiasm for the mission and the work that was truly invigorating for me.
In my current role as Vice President of School Partnerships, I have the privilege of working with superintendents across the country, who are also passionate about making a positive impact for children and families. I see them at state and national conferences, and meet with them in their districts and online to talk about their strategic goals and initiatives. When a district decides to partner with Right At School, I talk them through the launch process and do a parent information night to educate families about everything we can do for their children.
As a single parent raising my kids on my own, I know first-hand what it’s like to find good childcare — and there is nothing better than having your children in a great after school program. A program has to be fun for kids. I’ve had experiences with my own kids when they haven’t had fun at a program, and they would call me everyday to say they wanted to go home. But when they were in a fun program that they didn’t want to leave, that stress went away and I was so much more productive at work.
With Right At School, parents don’t have to worry like I did because their kids want to be there. One change I often see in districts that partner with Right At School is that program participation soars. One district went from 286 kids with its previous after school program provider to 1,800 kids with Right At School. That’s because of the impact a high-quality extended day enrichment program can make. Right At School brings fun and excitement to children and peace of mind to families.
Right At School relieves stress for district leaders, too. Superintendents today are dealing with so many challenges — pandemic-related learning setbacks for students, equity issues, staffing shortages, and more. This is why we work one-on-one with every district to meet its specific needs.
Every community is different, and Right At School is committed to working with our partners to provide access to exceptional, affordable enrichment for as many students, parents, and schools as possible.
In addition to our traditional parent-paid model, districts can apply funds from many federal programs — e.g., Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) — and state programs — e.g., California’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P) — to pay for after school programs. These funding options can be used to fully fund enrollments for lower income and at-risk students, or partially fund enrollments for all participating students. Right At School can also provide revenue from a parent-paid model back to the district in the form of scholarships or discounts to expand access for families in need. And if a district wants to deliver in-school programs, summer camps, break camps, tutoring, or electives, Right At School can do that, too.
What I most love about my job today is what made me want to join Right At School eight years ago. It’s the people I get to work with, both inside and outside of the company. I’m on the road almost every week of the year, and I get to meet some of the most incredible educational leaders in the country. My coworkers sometimes have to remind me to take time off because I love what I do so much that I feel like I go on vacation every week. It doesn’t feel like work when it’s this much fun and I can see the difference we’re making for children and families.