When Jacquelyn Nasti was hired as the new Director of After Care at Carolina Day in 2021, she had a vision. After working at an aftercare program at a French immersion school in New Orleans, she was brimming with ideas about the wide variety of enrichment classes she might offer at Carolina Day. A highly creative childcare professional with a degree in writing, she was energized by CDS’s culture and integration of outdoor education.
What she inherited, two days before the start of a new semester, was a program heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. After school enrichment had gone by the wayside as schools across the nation shifted their priorities. After care itself had been stretched to its limits, with students socially distanced in the largest space the school offered: the Alumni Gym. With no pre-pandemic blueprint to follow and very little staff to help manage the first wave of after care students, Nasti jumped headfirst into her new role with excitement, fueled by her love of working with children.
She spent her first semester building up new infrastructure to help the after care program run smoothly. These improvements involved developing a registration and regimented check-in system, equipping all aftercare staff with walkie-talkies to improve communication, and tablets for each after care worker. These changes have ensured that Nasti knows where every child is at any given moment, even if they aren’t in her sight.
With two semesters under her belt, though, Nasti isn’t finished improving. She’s focusing on making the after care building her own, transforming this pocket of campus that’s just for after care into a bright and stimulating place of play and discovery.
Now that Nasti has after care running like a well-oiled machine, she hopes to turn more of her attention to her other love: after school enrichment. After a tentative pilot program to bring enrichment back this past spring, both she and CDS students are ready to expand. “Not every kid wants to play sports,” Nasti said, something she kept in mind when deciding which four after school enrichment classes to choose for the pilot program. “I wanted to meet a couple of different needs.” The needs she ended up filling were a chess class, an acting class, a nature-based art class, and an outdoor living skills class. With all four classes filling up quickly, Nasti can’t wait to expand this year’s offerings, which include a natural discovery class, a STEM-based robotics class, and a yoga class. This is where Nasti’s creativity flows.
As for what Nasti hopes her kids get out of both the after care and after school enrichment experience, she knows that fostering relationships is key.
“Something I heard from parents was that they love that their kids have an extra relationship with adults,” she shared. “Between the aftercare staff and Taryn and I, they just form these new relationships that are less performance based. There’s less pressure on those relationships. And they just get to kind of hang out with…these other adults and other role models in their life that they see every single day.”