2023 Conference

On-Demand Videos

The 2023 conference theme is
GetConnected: Come Play

September 22, 2023
CHI Health Center
455 N 10th St / Omaha, NE

The GetConnected 2023 Nebraska Afterschool Conference provides an opportunity to learn more about planning and implementing a quality afterschool or summer program. Sessions offered throughout the day target a variety of audiences including program leaders, program staff, teachers, school administrators, community partners, and others interested in afterschool and summer learning opportunities for children and youth.

Session PowerPoints & Handouts

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Dr. Brian Maher was selected as the Nebraska Commissioner of Education by the State Board of Education on March 31, 2023, and started in the position on July 1, 2023.

Dr. Maher is a long-time educator with strong Nebraska roots. He served as superintendent at Sioux Falls School District (South Dakota) from 2015 to 2020; a 25,000-student school system where he led during the beginning stages of a worldwide health pandemic. Maher also served as superintendent at both Kearney (2007-2015) and Centennial (1999-2007) Public Schools in Nebraska. In his tenure as a school superintendent, he successfully led four bond referendums in three different school districts. Dr. Maher was also an administrator at Waverly, Elkhorn, and Johnson-Brock Public Schools and a teacher at Elkhorn and Clarks Public Schools.

Maher most recently served as the CEO and Executive Director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, from 2020 to 2023. In that role he conducted a system-wide review of the Board of Regents, which includes six universities and two special schools. This was a statewide review that lasted more than a year and culminated with a report to the legislature and the governor. Dr. Maher also lobbied the two-house legislature for historic funding during the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions for the state’s public higher education system and led an effort which resulted in no increase in tuition for public higher education institutions in the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions.

Dr. Maher received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education at Midland Lutheran College before he went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration from the University of Nebraska.

As Nebraska Commissioner, Dr. Maher will serve on several boards and commissions in the state.

Silva Raker

Silva Raker

Silva Raker is Kiewit Luminarium’s inaugural CEO. An accomplished senior executive and former field biologist, she has successfully developed vibrant, mission-based enterprise and talented teams for the educational nonprofit, specialty retail, and travel sectors. Prior to her relocation to Omaha in August 2021, Silva served as Senior Business Director of Global Collaborations for the Exploratorium and held senior positions at The Nature Company and Backroads, Inc. She has a degree in Zoology from University of California at Berkeley.

Kiewit Luminarium

Leveraging the Power of Play in Afterschool to Build Skills for Learning and Life

Stephanie M. Jones is the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Child Development and Education and Director of the EASEL Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on social, emotional, and behavioral development from early childhood through early adolescence. Over the past fifteen years, her work
has centered on evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool- and elementary-level social-emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices, as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. Jones is also co-Director (with Nonie Lesaux) of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and Co-PI of the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H). She serves on numerous national advisory boards and expert consultant groups related to social-emotional development, early childhood education, and child and family anti-poverty policies, including recently as a member of the Council of
Distinguished Scientists for the Aspen National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Her research is published in academic and educational journals as well as in trade publications, and she regularly presents her work to national academic and practitioner audiences. Jones holds a BA from Barnard College and a PhD from Yale University.


Why Play Works

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Game Guide

Why Play Works

In her new book Why Play Works, Jill Vialet who founded Playworks, shares stories that will help you understand the changes made through play and learn what you need to know to create a similar impact. The book explores the intersectionality between play and racial equity, gender equity, science and play theory, and more.

Over the course of 25 years, Jill Vialet and her colleagues, as well as researchers and play experts, have demonstrated precisely how and why play works to help kids learn and grow in the most positive and healthy ways.  She shares what she has learned in Why Play Works and identifies 20 small steps that lead to big change that can be applied to any out-of-school time program. The book explains how play as an essential tool for increasing social connection amongst students of all ages and why playing is a behavior that’s helped humans learn to navigate the demands of social interaction for eons.

Why Play Works book clubRegister for book club

Book Club meeting 1:  The Theory & Science of Play
Theme:  Building relationships and building connections
Link to recording meeting 1
Link to Facilitation Guide 1

Book Club meeting 2:  Let’s Start Playing
Theme:  Inclusion and Leadership
Link to recording meeting 2
Link to Facilitation Guide 2

Book Club meeting 3:  The Power of Play
Theme:  Conflict & Competition – Physical Activity
Read pages 78-117
Link to recording meeting 3
Link to Facilitation Guide 3

Book Club meeting 4:  Everyday Play
Thursday January 11, 2024 at 11:00-12:00 CT | 10:00-11:00 MT
Theme:  Purposeful Changes & Transitions – Equity
Read pages 118-143
Link to recording meeting 4
Link to Facilitation Guide 4

Book Club meeting 5:  The Theory & Science of Play
Thursday February 8, 2024 at 11:00-12:00 CT | 10:00-11:00 MT
Theme:  Leveling the Field
Read pages 144-184
Link to recording meeting 5
Link to Facilitation Guide 5

COME PLAYSchedule for September 22, 2023

(All times are CDT)

7:45 AM to 8:30 AM Registration, Breakfast and Visit Walk & Talk Display Tables
8:30 AM to 9:45 AM Opening Session and Morning Keynote
9:45 AM to 10:15 AM Walk & Talk Display Tables and Networking
10:15 AM to 11:05 AM Workshop I
11:05 AM to 11:30 AM Walk & Talk Display Tables and Networking
11:30 AM to 12:20 PM Workshop II
12:30 PM to 1:45 PM Lunch and Afternoon Keynote
2:00 PM to 2:50 PM Workshop III
3:10 PM to 4:00 PM Workshop IV
4:00 PM Door Prizes

Conference Partners

Updated February 20, 2024 1:44pm