As the new Director of Extended Programs, Melissa Branigan moves into a position that allows her to build programs for and give opportunities to students not just in Lower School, where she has taught both 1st and 4th grades at Sycamore, but for the entire school.
“I believe in the Extended Programs. I have worked within a variety of them, with Quest, both before and after school, and summer camps,” Branigan says. Last year, she added Athletics Director to her duties, working with coaches and Middle School students. “As a Sycamore parent myself, my family is heavily involved with Extended Programs each day. When I learned about this position, I couldn't help but get excited about the possibilities, how it would benefit the school, and at the chance to grow the programs.”
Extended Programs encompasses anything that occurs outside of the school day, like athletics, after-school activities, Quest (Sycamore’s before and after-school care), summer camps, the Sycamore Academy, and Middle School clubs and competition teams, like Vex Robotics and Destination Imagination.
Sycamore’s Head of School, Diane Borgmann, is excited about the opportunities Branigan will have to support and help shape the programs. “Melissa is a terrific fit. Her background with kids of a variety of ages and her personal experience in almost all of the programs that will be her responsibility provide her with great background experience for this position,” Borgmann says. “Her energy, passion, and organizational strengths make it a successful match between the needs of Sycamore and Melissa's attributes.”
As Borgmann notes, the before- and after-school programs have been under the oversight of several individuals during the time. With the demands for coordination of time, space, organization, and communication growing, Borgmann says, “it has become clear that Sycamore needs a single individual to oversee this entire domain of athletics, summer programs, Quest, after-school activities, academic teams, and clubs.”
“I will have interaction with all of the students at various grade levels and with their families,” Branigan says. “I’m excited for the day-to-day interactions.”
Branigan has taught at Sycamore since 2004, teaching 4th grade for five years and 1st grade for ten years. This new change is one Branigan hasn’t taken lightly.
“I will miss working closely each day with my team, the Lower School teachers, and Glenna (Lykens, Head of Lower School). Glenna and the Lower School teachers are so fantastic, great friends and colleagues who care deeply about educating the students. They are a hardworking, fun-loving, incredibly intelligent group of people. I will also miss the day-to-day interaction with 1st grade students,” she says.
“I have two goals in mind as I start this new position,” Branigan says. “One goal is to continue to grow the programs, with more offerings and fantastic experiences for our current students and families. The second goal is to use the programs to further the mission of the school and help pique interest and recruitment of new students and families to our Sycamore community.”