Vermont Afterschool’s 15th(!) Annual Conference has been scheduled for Thursday and Friday, October 24-25, 2024 at Sugarbush Resort in Warren.

Thursday will feature a half-day, professional development deep-dive specifically for out-of-school time directors and site coordinators facilitated by Amy Brady of The Flourish Lab (learn more below), and Friday will once again bring together Vermont’s out-of-school time directors, staff, educators, and partners for a full day of 17 workshops across three breakout sessions, an inspiring keynote from Tyler Kearns, networking, and a celebration of the important work you do for Vermont’s children, youth, and families!

We can’t wait to see you again in October! Registration opens August 1! Stay tuned to our emails and this conference webpage as we update information on registration, conference workshops, and the keynote speaker. 

There is a block of hotel rooms available at a discounted rate for anyone wishing to stay overnight at Sugarbush Resort Thursday evening. Click here to reserve your room.

Register for Conference +

2023 Vermont Afterschool Conference Registration

On this page, you can register for the Thursday workshop and/or the Friday conference. Please note, you can save the registration form and use the link that will be emailed to you, but your registration is NOT COMPLETE until you submit. If you have any questions, please reach out to Becka Wilcke, becky@vermontafterschool.org.

Early bird registration ends October 2nd! Rates will increase from $150/non-member to $175/non-member!

Tyler Kearns

Tyler Kearns Tyler is the current Program Coordinator for Clayton Kid Zone just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. In his 17th year in before and afterschool programming, he has become an accomplished leader and trainer in the field. Tyler is a National AfterSchool Association Next Generation honoree and a National Play Ambassador with the Genius of Play. Kearns’ knowledge base comes not only from research but from experience from the front lines, as he continues to hone his craft onsite daily with staff and students. Tyler is also the Professional Development Committee Chair with the Missouri Afterschool Network working to further advance the professional development for afterschool professionals in his state. Outside of programming, Tyler is also the owner and Master instructor at Axiom Martial Arts with 18 years  of experience coaching, leading, and instructing all ages in martial arts training.

Amy Brady

Amy Brady

Amy’s professional background includes 11 years working as a middle and high school science, math, and health teacher. She also had the opportunity to work with parents of 9th graders as they navigated the ups and downs of raising teenagers.

Amy followed her teaching career with a transition into youth development through Colorado State University Extension, working to provide impactful out-of-school-time programs for Denver’s youth. It was through this experience that she developed a deeper understanding of and love for her greater community and her place within that community. In 2013, she realized her long-time dream of becoming an entrepreneur by founding StandUP, the organization behind the Flourish Lab.

When she’s not engaging with others through StandUP and the Flourish Lab, what she loves more than anything is enjoying the sunshine on the front porch with her neighbors and laughing often and heartily with family and friends.

Deep Dive Workshop

Empowering Environments: The antithesis to behavior management

Creating supporting environments for young people is EVERYTHING. But what does this really mean? Why are so many youth organizations still focused on “behavior management”? In this 4-hour workshop, we will explore what it really means to create a supportive environment. It starts with understanding which mindsets are rooted in adult power vs. youth and adult partnership. Once we build this self-awareness, we get the power to choose the mindsets and actions that are most important in supporting our young people. The result? Young people more naturally show up as their best. And we learn to embrace, rather than fight, challenging behaviors when they inevitably occur.

Participants will discover:

  • How focusing on behavior management works against us
  • The core mindset shifts that move us from power to partnership
  • The three core factors in creating empowering environments
  • What these shifts look like in practice

WORKSHOP BLOCK #1 | 10:00 AM–12:00 PM

CONNECTED: The Purpose and Power of Our Relationships with Children
Children are primed to seek and receive our care. Yet, this connection doesn’t happen simply because we are the teacher, parent, or other adult. It’s a unique relationship to deeply understand and nurture. This training defines how the attachment relationship between child and adult optimally works and the core needs it fulfills: safety, positive sense of self, and trust in people. Providing this relationship is a huge challenge, yet we benefit too! We can embrace the growing pains and deepen our compassion and awe for the lifelong journey of growth that we are all on.
Presenter: Beth Martell
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Child Development and Learning

Become a Tree – Bringing the Healing Power of Nature Inside the Classroom
Together we will learn the benefits of nature as a tool for developing self-regulation and social/emotional learning, while practicing the beneficial impact nature has on our ability to communicate and connect.
Presenter: Anna Howes Gebhardt
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environments

Equity and Inclusion in Afterschool
Equity and Inclusion are lifelong learning processes that are not able to be condensed into a single workshop–however, in these two hours we will spend some time talking about common equity traps and tropes in programming, the benefits of having equity-centered programming for your students, and how creating communities where youth feel like they belong are central to inclusion work.
Presenter: Marla Goldstein
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Developmentally Appropriate and Inclusive Practices

A Look into the “Play” Book
Join Tyler and be prepared to get active with hands-on games and activities for all ages. Participants will learn the science behind play and how to educate our families, administrators, and partners on the” why we play”. From big games to small and everything in between let’s jump right into learning and playing so you can have fun with your program the very next day. Work is not work, when our work is PLAY!
Presenter: Tyler Kearns
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Child Development and Learning

De-Escalation: Every Behavior Starts with a Feeling
Children, like adults, have emotional emergencies – they just look different from ours. On closer inspection, we learn that there’s a predictable pattern to escalation – an arc of sorts, that if caught in time, can re-direct outcomes from explosive to calm. Using a relationship and empathy-centered mindset, we discover that strong behaviors are no mystery, and that all feelings make sense. What we all most want in these moments is a sense of connection and care.
Presenter: Amy Brady
Level: Advanced
Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environments

WORKSHOP BLOCK #2 | 1:00 PM–2:30 PM

Learn the Secrets to Helping Youth Thrive; It’s More than Just a Spark!
Quality positive youth development programs that really build skills important for youth to thrive, include more than just fun activities or field trips. Taking time to nurture caring relationships in a safe and supportive environment where everyone feels like they belong, is key. Couple that with activities that allow for deep engagement, and you really hit the mark! Join us to learn how to integrate the 4 secret ingredients; sparks, belonging, relationships and engagement, to really set up young people to thrive!
Presenters: Sarah Kleinman and Molly McFaun
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Developmentally Appropriate and Inclusive Practices

How to Support Youth Mental Health in Your Programs and Community
Young people are experiencing an unprecedented mental health emergency and as afterschool professionals, you are witnessing the effect this is having on youth firsthand. This workshop is designed to help adults better understand what support youth want and need around their mental health both on an individual and community level. You will learn ways to better support youth mental health in your programs and when talking with individual youth. You will also learn more about supports young people are asking from their community, so we can work together to build a more supportive environment in Vermont.
Presenter: Brianne Smith
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Safety and Wellness

STARS for Afterschool Programs- Building Program Quality
How can MadLibs and Mr. Potato Head help you engage in STARS? Come join the STARS team and find out in this interactive training where participants will learn more about STARS for Afterschool programs, and how to create your program’s Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) plan. We’ll do a deep dive into all things STARS: Elements of Quality, SMARTIE goals, how Continuous Quality Improvement is a team sport… and play games.
Presenters: Courtney Isham and Jacek Deptula
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Program Planning and Development

Restart Leadership
Come along as we help you become an inspirational leader! This workshop will use a humorous storytelling approach that will provide participants the knowledge and skills to return to their programs re-energized, reinvigorated and ready to restart! You will learn the pillars of the PIC3S (Purposeful, Innovative, Committed, Competent, Climate Oriented and Systematized) system of leadership and how to concretely instill these transformational practices into your program in immediately applicable ways.
Presenters: Bill Bonsignore and Marie K. Gilmond
Level: Advanced
Core Competencies: Professionalism and Ethical Practice

The Importance of Play for Learning and Social and Emotional Growth
Social and Emotional learning helps establish and maintain positive relationships by developing self-awareness and self-management skills and responsible behaviors and Play reinforces these goals by giving students real-time practice following rules, taking turns, supporting team members, managing disappointment and frustration, practicing empathy, thinking creatively, solving problems, and so much more. Energizers, cooperative games, improv theater games and active play can be interwoven throughout the educational process. Play, for all ages of students, is an active and real way for students to feel and express their joy and it is a remarkable tool for emotional regulation and learning effective social skills. Research overwhelmingly demonstrates that children play their way into learning. In a culture that values academics over play, children deserve the opportunity to engage in the form of learning that is best for them.
Presenter: Howard Moody
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice

Supervision 101
In this workshop participants will learn tips to becoming a successful supervisor. Topics include how to effectively delegate to staff who possess varying skill and motivation levels, tips for giving effective feedback to staff, understanding the steps to successful performances reviews, and strategies for dealing with challenging staff members.
Presenter: Dacia Ostlund
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Professionalism and Ethical Practice

WORKSHOP BLOCK #3 | 2:45 PM–4:15 PM

Building a Community of Care and Belonging Through Play
A core need for children is the need for belonging. Well led social play is one of the most direct and fastest ways to develop relational trust and create belonging which is a foundation of restorative justice practices. We will explore the concept of progressive risk-taking as it applies to play and how using circle games and low-risk games serves to create safety so higher-risk activities can be played thus building and deepening a sense of community and belonging. For anyone using Restorative Practices or thinking of doing so this session will provide simple and effective games and activities designed to build relational trust.
Presenter: Howard Moody
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environments

The Why and How to Incorporating Career and Education Planning into your Program
Every student should graduate high school with a career and education plan, and exploring that what that plan might look like does not have to wait until high school. Join our interactive workshop focusing on effective strategies for career and education planning. Grounded in the latest research, this session will empower you to engage students in meaningful discussions about their futures and learn how to integrate MyFutureVT.org and the Vermont Employment Pathfinder tool to support students in navigating Vermont’s career and education landscape.
Presenter: Tom Cheney
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environments

Jr Iron Chef VT – What it Takes to Host a Team!
Come learn all about the Jr Iron Chef VT competition that hosts hundreds of Vermont youth each year in a 1-day, statewide, fun-yet-timed cooking event. Learn what it takes to host a middle school or high school team, the preparation beforehand, the day of event, and the bigger picture outcomes of this special activity. Hear from winning coaches, and be prepared to do some hands-on cooking with a little food prep yourself!
: Dana Hudson and Lynn Brown
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environments

Discover Your Leadership Style
In this workshop, participants will identify their personal values and how these shape how they show up as a person and leader in the workplace. They will learn about the varying types of leadership styles and determine the type of leader they are based on this knowledge. The training will result in participants creating their own personal leadership mission statement to use in shaping and enhancing their leadership practice.
Presenter: Dacia Ostlund
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Professionalism and Ethical Practice

Coaching for Commitment, Competence, and Climate
This workshop is for supervisors who are looking to be better coaches for their staff. Are you ready to unleash the talents, abilities and passion of your staff? Are you hoping to return to your program reignited and ready to stoke the passion and skills of your staff. If so please join us!
Presenters: Bill Bonsignore & Marie K. Gilmond
Level: Advanced
Core Competencies: Professionalism and Ethical Practice

Strengthening Skill Building in Your Afterschool Program Through Project-Based Learning
In this workshop, afterschool staff and leaders will develop their understanding, knowledge, and ability to provide skill-building opportunities in their afterschool programs. As described in the School-Age PQA tool, “The first step in assuring children learn and build skills is for the staff to have intentionally identified what is to be learned and how it is to be learned. This item has two purposes. First, it ensures that the staff has planned learning or skill-building objectives for the activities that day. Secondly, it assesses whether the staff has communicated that purpose to the children.” In this workshop, participants will look at and share examples of skill-building activities and projects and begin to develop ideas for skill-building projects to implement in their program. This workshop involves an introduction to project-based learning, the active-participatory approach and cooperative learning.
Presenter: Kathleen Bray
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environments

We invite organizations and businesses to support Vermont Afterschool by purchasing an exhibitor table. Exhibiting at our conference offers an opportunity to market your services, products, or resources to over 200 afterschool professionals. Exhibitor tables are available to conference sponsors of $175 and up. Space is limited and tables are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Click here to reserve your Exhibitor Table today.


Sugarbush Resort
22 Gate House Lane
Warren, VT 05674


Individuals planning to stay at Sugarbush Resort Thursday are eligible to receive a discounted rate. To reserve a room at the discounted rate, please click here.



12:45 PM: Welcome
1:00–5:00 PM: Deep-Dive Training


8:00–8:45 AM: Registration & Caffeine
8:45–9:00 AM: Welcome from VTA Executive Director
9:00–9:45 AM: Keynote Address from Tyler Kearns
10:00 AM–12:00 PM: Workshop Block 1
12:00–12:45 PM: Lunch
1:00–2:30 PM: Workshop Block 2
2:45–4:15 PM: Workshop Block 3
4:15–5:00 PM: Afterschool Cafe (Closing Remarks, Dessert, Raffle)

Your Support Makes the Annual Conference Possible.

Vermont Afterschool, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and contributions are tax deductible. Your gift supports our efforts to increase the quality of and access to afterschool and summer programs in Vermont, as well as to empower youth.

The 2023 Annual Conference Was Made Possible by Generous Support from: