When you can see the spark in a young person’s eyes, you know you’ve made an important connection. That’s the goal every day for Hannah Kemper.
Kemper is the education coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Goshen Clubhouse. She’s been working at the Goshen site since 2019 with some of the youngest members.
“I wanted to work in elementary education. I was part of a traveling drama team and I got to assistant direct with high school and elementary school students — teaching them theatre and how to use their bodies to communicate a story,” Kemper said. “I loved getting to know them and what their interests are. I didn’t want to lose that aspect of working with them.”
That’s what led her to Club. She majored in journalism and English in college and has dreams of becoming a journalist some day.
“I really want to travel and see different people and tell their stories. I would like to eventually teach,” she said.
Inspiring a love for learning is her goal.
“My job is to be enthusiastic about learning — not a specific subject, but about learning in life,” Kemper said. “The enthusiasm is what pulls them in. For some kids, they don’t get that outside of here. That enthusiasm can spark curiosity.”
While she has a passion for igniting that spark, she admits she was a little overwhelmed when she started working with kids.
“After my first day I wondered if I could do this. By the third week I started to know the kids, and I knew this was where I was supposed to be,” Kemper said. “Some days are really, really great. When you connect with the kids and you can tell how much they love it.”
And what about the days that connection isn’t as strong?
“On the bad days you have to remember you are working here for the kids and remember those good days to get you through.”
She said the goal of the Boys & Girls Clubs team is to be a consistent figure in the lives of the members. Kemper said she has a simple way of measuring whether the day has been a success.
“I will be physically exhausted, but mentally and emotionally excited to go back the next day.”