Partner School Stories

Beyond The Classroom Parent Response Fall 2021

By Samantha Montes

I am so thankful for all that Beyond The Classroom (BTC) has done for our family. Starting a new “afterschool” program during the pandemic quickly became a refuge for us all.  With first grade being online, BTC was no longer just an afterschool program.  BTC was the place where my daughter was welcomed with open arms, made new friends, was nurtured, and came out of her shell.  As a shy child, I think that BTC’s use of The Positivity Project has helped my daughter verbalize her emotions and much of that has been prompted by the character strength discussions.  

Creativity and teamwork are two of the character strengths that have really resonated with my daughter.  Everyday she comes home excited to explain how she took a few everyday items, and with the help of teacher Joelle, created something beautiful.  Thinking creatively has helped her to problem solve and step away from perfectionism which used to constantly frustrate her when creating art.  One little “mistake” and the project would end.  Now she is much more carefree. 

Teamwork is another character strength that we’ve talked about at home.  The other day my daughter said that BTC was late to pick their group up from school but with teamwork, the group split up and a few went to the office to notify an administrator, while a few others stayed back to wait for BTC.  While they were waiting, someone dropped something that broke, so they notified a nearby adult.  I asked my daughter if she was worried, but she said she wasn’t because they worked as a team.  I could see how proud she was of herself and her friends. To some, this may be a negative example. But, I thought it was outstanding to see that together as a team they could problem solve to prioritize actions while being safe. 

Thank you, BTC! 

-Noelle Ito (Mother of Kinsey, 2nd grade)


Samantha Montes

Samantha Montes, is the executive director, and co-owner of Beyond The Classroom After School Program. A first generation college student, she received both her B.S. in Sociology with a minor in Education and her Master’s Degree in Education at UCLA.  She has over five years experience in education including public elementary schools,  a Charter School, and Homeschool environments.  As an Ameri-Corp Vista, she was recognized for having the “Most Outstanding Service Award” for the literacy program.  As a recipient of the Governor’s Teacher Fellowship, she worked as an Elementary Teacher serving underperforming schools in the inner city. Samantha’s passion for social and emotional learning led her to open Beyond The Classroom, an alternative after school enrichment program and summer camp serving the South Pasadena community for almost 10 years. Beyond The Classroom has touched the lives of over 200 children during its past years of operation. Samantha’s mission and  vision have come to fruition through this program enabling her to spread her passion in providing an after school program that nurtures children’s emotional intelligence. Samantha lives in South Pasadena and is a mother of three children.