APS News Release

The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth Announces 2020 Connect With Kids and Do For Kids Champions

As is always the case, many Champions work for, or with Arlington Public Schools and this year is no different. Read about each Champion below. Here are the APS Champions:

  • Nathan Lile, a DUAL Connect With Kids and Do For Kids Champion, is a rising 10th grade student at Wakefield High School.
  • Tarica Mason, Connect With Kids Champion, is a newly named site supervisor for Extended Day at Hoffman-Boston;
  • Ginger Geoffrey, a Connect With Kids Champion, is a volunteer sponsor for the Key Club at Washington-Liberty High School;
  • Charron McKethean, a Do For Kids Champion, is a long-time Extended Day staff at Long Branch Elementary School;
  • Carol Sabatino, a Do For Kids Champion, is the Community School Coordinator at Carlin Springs Elementary School;
  • David Guas, Bayou Bakery, Do For Kids Champion, is the owner and chef of a restaurant that provides meals for APS students.

The Dual-Champion is: Nathan Liles, Teen DJ Program, Department of Parks & Recreation, Office for Teens. The first-ever Dual Champion, last spring as an 8th grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, he was asked to take over the DJ program when his mentor, DJ Jeff, had to take leave. Nathan jumped right in to keep the program going, coming in to work well before class time to prepare, DJing shows, and adopting a highly professional look and demeanor to copy his mentor. His commitment to the program ensured that it continued. However, his ability to connect with his peers and lead them helped the program to grow and thrive. Nathan embodies both awards in his level of investment in the program and to each individual student DJ.

The 2020 Connect With Kids Champions:
Tarica Mason, Arlington Public Schools Extended Day, Barcroft Elementary School.
Ms. T, as she is known, is a consistent friendly face to all children. Her consistency was particularly important to a child who experienced multiple teacher turnovers during her kindergarten year.   Wherever she worked over 22+ years with Extended Day she left a mark with countless children. She is always excited to see ‘her kids’, remembers details about their lives and listens when they talk – one of the most important ways to connect with kids.

Virginia “Ginger” Geoffrey, is a Key Club sponsor at Washington-Lee High School and in that capacity has assisted a number of students in navigating the college application process. Thanks to Ginger, Virginia’s universities are home to many young people who are first generation – and first women in their families – to attend college. Her support for students continues once they are in college as well, thus ensuring their success. Ginger and her husband have been generous supporters of young people through financial contributions and more importantly, as hosts and informal foster parents to young people from around the world. They are all one large, extended family that continues to grow with new generations, and building ever-stronger connections.

The 2019 Do For Kids Champions are:
David Guas, Bayou Baker. David and his team have been unwavering in the their effort to provide hot meals to students since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Initially offering meals to students from their restaurant near Courthouse, they quickly realized that few families were coming. They shifted and begain delivering meals. Working with PTA volunteers, they identified and got meals to residents who are  unable to access the Arlington Public Schools Grab & Go meal sites due to geographic location. Always with a positive attitude, David is there with hot meals ready for delivery.

Charron McKethean, Arlington Public Schools Extended Day, Long Branch Elementary School.
Despite over a quarter-century working with children, Charron is still has boundless energy for kids. From practicing dance moves for an upcoming event to participating in peewee Super Bowl games, to bagging meals for the homeless, she is always doing something to help make the school and the program better for the kids. She is the ‘go to’ person for just about any issue. Her commitment to the kids, and making things better, is what led to her selection.

Carol Sabatino, Carlin Springs Elementary School.
Carol is the coordinator for this community school and for 7 years has nurtured dozens of partnerships to address the social, emotional and health needs of students AND their families. She facilitates access to community health and mental health supports that is critical for immigrant and vulnerable families. In addition, she creates a welcoming environment for parents who normally are fearful of institutions and helps them claim their role as partners in their children’s education and as community members.

The Connect With Kids Champions award was created by Mary Ann Moran, of the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families (APCYF), in 2004 as a way to recognize people in the community who go out of their way to connect WITH kids and develop positive, supportive relationships with them; and to inspire others to also connect with kids. In 2018 APCYF added the Do For Kids Champion award to recognize individuals and groups who do wonderful things FOR kids.

Since 2004, the APCYF has recognized 139 Champions. They come from all walks of life – neighbors, friends, businesses, parent, or professionals working with young people. What sets these Champions apart is their intentional and deliberate attentiveness to the needs of young people and the support they provide.

By recognizing community Champions, the Partnership celebrates adults who make the commitment to young people, while also inspiring other adults to do the same. Other Champions include Adapted Gymnastics Instructors, Arlington Parks & Recreation, Connect With Kids;Martial Arts Instructors, Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts, Connect With Kids;Chris Seaton, Project Belong, Do For Kids Champion.

The awardees will be honored at tele-meetings for now. The APCYF looks forward to celebrating in person with a celebration once that is safe to do.

For more information about Connect With Kids or Do For Kids Champions, contact Michael Swisher at mswish@arlingtonva.us.