May 22, 2023

Leading with Creativity, Coral Mapp Impacts the Next Generation

As an Activity Center Leader, Coral puts her artistic talents to work caring for kids
Children at playground

Working as an activity center leader in before and after school care programs, Coral Mapp is often awake before the sun rises. But having found a job she loves, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When the kids come in, it’s the most rewarding thing. Their eyes light up when they see me,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Miss Coral, I can’t wait to tell you about my day!’”

Lending a listening ear during a child’s busy day is an important aspect of the Parks & Recreation Department’s Out-of-School Time program, which provides childcare for students at all 56 elementary schools and 7 recreation centers in Virginia Beach.

“When parents have to work early or late, we fill in those gaps,” Coral said.

More than a childcare service, Out-of-School Time is a youth development program. “We teach kids how to become well-rounded individuals,” she said. “We teach responsibility, how to become a better leader and how to be a great team member.”

On any given day at her school or recreation center sites, Coral might lead kids in playing games at the playground, learning a new dance or completing a science activity.

“I am not someone who wants to sit at a desk all day. I am someone who likes to be active and moving,” she said. “When we bring out the paint, that’s when I’m the most excited.”

As a theater lover who enjoys dancing and singing, Coral appreciates being able to use her creative talents at work. “When I’m reading a story to the kids, I’m using my acting skills,” she said. “I love playing games with the kids and teaching them a new line dance.”

Coral has seen that both the kids and leaders benefit when her teammates draw from their unique strengths and backgrounds. “Some of my co-workers are retired teachers, some just graduated from college and some are working their first job,” she said. “As a team, we rely on each other. It’s exciting to learn new and different things from one another.”

The best part of the job, Coral says, is getting to know the kids and making a difference in their lives. “It makes my heart grow three sizes to know I’m making an impact on the next generation,” she said. “I think it is the most rewarding job on the planet to enrich the lives of children.”

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