Nurturing Excellence: Instructor Forum Invests in Instructors and Chicago’s Future

Last week, After School Matters’ Instructor Forum “Reconnecting to Our Practice: Rooted in Our Foundations” brought together hundreds of instructors from across the city at Northeastern Illinois University. This event fostered collaboration and professional growth, providing a platform for our instructors to share best practices and learn from each other.

Our instructor mentors are experts in their fields and dedicated to supporting and creating enriching experiences for Chicago’s teens. The once-a-year Forum is designed to bring together our educators to invest in them, offering them a space to refine their skills, exchange ideas, and fuel their passion for teaching.

The Forum featured professional development breakout sessions tailored to meet instructors’ diverse needs and interests. These sessions covered topics like creating safe spaces for teens, using data to improve programs, disability awareness training, strategies for empowering teens to share their voices, and more.

The Forum’s culminating event featured a dance performance from Les Enfants instructors Shakeena President-Beckford and Carol President, and a keynote from ASM instructor (and alum) Chef Chloe Gould, sharing her journey from ASM teen to professional chef and instructor.

Purple Star Awards were also given to our excellent instructors Alina Hernandez, Rebecca Pavesh, and Andrea Klunder, thanking them for their dedication to young people.

Instructor Alina Hernandez Ring Leaders boxing program in Little Village

Alina’s dedication to youth advocacy and mentorship is truly inspiring. In just three years, she has become a driving force, imparting the art of boxing while instilling invaluable life skills to our teens in a supportive and empowering environment.

Instructor Rebecca Pavesh, Walking on Broken Glass: Stained Glass program at the Curie Metropolitan High School

With over 20 years of experience as an ASM instructor and 27 years as a visual art teacher, Rebecca’s dedication shines through in every aspect of her work. Her stained glass program isn’t just about art—it’s a safe haven where teens feel loved, supported, and empowered to express themselves.

Instructor Andrea Klunder, Podcast Production: Power your Story program – Downtown Branch

Since 2017, Andrea’s dedication to accessibility and community building in her program has earned her consistent waitlists and accolades from teen participants. Beyond ASM, Andrea is an award-winning podcaster and the creative force behind Creative Impostor Studios, where she pioneers purpose-driven podcasts for impactful leaders.

The Forum celebrated our instructors’ dedication and commitment to empowering youth. Through partnership and learning, instructors continue to make a difference in their communities and the lives of teens by investing their time and talents, leaving a lasting impact on future generations.

Instructor Forum: By the Numbers