Unleashing Potential Staff Certifications Enhance Youth Development, Early Childhood Education Programming

L to R: Laketa Boyd, Jacqueline Mallet, Jennifer Mack, Patsy Mason, and Tameeka Slaughter. Photo Credits: Jake Russell

By Jake Russell, marketing manager, Unleashing Potential

Ever since Shawnica Andrews began working with the St. Louis-based Unleashing Potential, a few things have become clear to her: 

  1. Knowledge is power
  2. Nothing is more important than knowledge gained from improving oneself and 
  3. Some things are irreplaceable.

So, when she learned of the opportunity to pursue the Youth Development Credential (YDC) through the Missouri AfterSchool Network, she applied herself to it.

The YDC is a renewable, entry-level credential for adults working with kindergarten through 12th-grade youth. The certification helps them gain professional recognition by demonstrating their competence and knowledge as they work in youth-serving programs. Successful completion shows that individuals have achieved Level 2 of the Core Knowledge and Competencies for Youth Development Professionals, which was unveiled at the 2012 National Afterschool Association Convention.

Shawnica Andrews proudly shows her certificate.

“It feels great to earn yet another credential in the field that I love,” Andrews said. “I am grateful, because it is an amazing opportunity to better myself and advance in my career.”

Shawnica is not alone. Since November 2022, nine others have earned YDC certificates as well: Laketa Boyd, Shanise Lewis, Tanyell Jackson, Rachele Johnson-Bell, Jennifer Mack, Jacqueline Mallet, Patsy Mason, Tameeka Slaughter and Melanie Wilson.

Boyd, Jackson and Slaughter also have gone on to earn the Director Certification, which allows them to hold a license at their particular center — in their cases, Caroline Mission, Unleashing Potential’s early childhood education center.

These credentials help Unleashing Potential in its 10-year vision to be recognized as the gold standard in delivery of early childhood education and out-of-school-time programs. The commitment of Unleashing Potential staff toward continuous growth and education helps the CHHSM organizations achieve positive outcomes that close the opportunity gap for underserved children and enables it to be recognized as a premier influencer of these practices in Missouri and the region.

“I appreciate our staff’s investment in themselves and their commitment to making Unleashing Potential the gold standard in both youth development and early childhood education,” said Darlene Sowell, president and CEO of Unleashing Potential. “Our children will benefit greatly from all of their knowledge.”

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