This week marks the start of the 2023-24 school year and the Y is ready to once again welcome students into our before and after school Kid Zone program! Before and After Care Director Tori Dutkiewicz is starting her first year at the helm of Kid Zone for the Galowich Family YMCA, which provides on-site care to children at schools in Joliet School District 86, Troy CCSD 30C, and Rockdale School District 84. We are so excited to have Tori on the Y team, and you can learn more about her in the Q&A below!
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from and what did you do prior to joining the YMCA team?
I was born and raised in Joliet and attended Troy 30C schools, as well as Joliet West High School. I attended Benedictine University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a minor in education. I am currently working to finish my master’s degree in child and adolescent development psychology. Prior to joining the Y, I worked in education for 12 years, with experience as a paraprofessional and Kindergarten teacher.
Q: Why do you have a passion for youth development?
Knowing that I have a tiny part in the growth and development of children in our Kid Zone program encourages me to do what I do. I find joy in helping kids discover their passions, accomplish tasks they might find challenging, and create new friendships. I have extensive experience working in special education classrooms and consider myself an advocate for inclusion. I believe in providing a safe space for children to grow and thrive as they become leaders for future generations.
Q: What stands out about the YMCA community and Y programs as a whole?
There is nothing like the community here at the Y! I remember participating in swim programs at the Galowich Family YMCA as a kid, and the experience was fantastic! Now on a day-to-day basis, I see how dedicated YMCA staff members are developing and maintaining programs for children and families. Everyone is genuinely friendly and willing to assist in any way they can. They put their heart and soul into everything they do. The way we keep our members and program participants at the forefront of our mission is another key way that Y programs stand out.
Q: With the school year getting underway, what are you looking forward to as students begin before and after school activities at Kid Zone?
I am looking forward to watching new friendships form and play a role in how children progress throughout the year. It’s so rewarding to be able to serve the community I grew up in. I am excited for the kids to experience the fun activities we have planned for them!
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of the Y?
When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and dog. We love to travel and find new dog-friendly cities to explore. We also attend sporting events together! We love to watch hockey, baseball, and football. In my spare time, I also like to read and practice yoga.
To learn more about YMCA Kid Zone, click here.