Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Mary Johnson lauds many who boosted programs

The 2019-20 school year has come and gone, changing many things along the way. With it, Mary Johnson Children’s Center marks the closing of the Starksboro School Age Program, affectionately known as RASY, and the Bristol School Age program, known as BASK. The district elementary schools will no longer provide space for their operation.
For twenty and thirty years, respectively, these licensed programs provided afterschool care for more than 1,000 children ages 5-12, and served their families with empathy, good-humor and genuine concern. Staff members invested their time, talents and professionalism to achieve recognized experiences and relationships of the highest quality for the children in their communities — RASY and BASK achieved 4 STARS and 5 STARS in the Vermont quality recognition system.  Sterling folks like Barb Bell and Jill Paul, and others that went before them in Starksboro — Barb, Jess, Caroline and all — paid faithful attention to the safety and development of Starksboro’s youngest citizens.
Scores of BASK staffers from Kendra, Judy, Susan, Pete, Doug, Sandy, Jen and others made afterschool a welcoming, special place for kids to be kids, to learn how to make and be friends, in the happiest kinds of chaos and growth.
Additionally, dozens of youthful workers, leaders-in-training, were given employment at programs, and many found their calling while there to pursue education and future connections with children.  We thank the community leaders, like Mary Heins, Terrance Evarts and Phoebe Barash, who made space for these efforts to begin in 2000, and 1990. The investments of caring provided daily to the children of the Starksboro and Bristol communities stand as significant and worthwhile testimony that we were, truly, all in this together.
In appreciation,
Anne Gleason, M.A., E.D.
School Age Programs Director
Mary Johnson Children’s Center

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