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Waynesboro On the Road program director earns national after-school award

Rebecca Barnabi
Courtesy of Angela Mickens.

Angela Mickens, Waynesboro’s On the Road Collaborative program director, is the recipient of the 2024 National AfterSchool Association (NAA) Next Generation After-School Leadership Award.

A graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, now Staunton High, Mickens was born and raised in Staunton, and lives in the Queen City. She graduated JMU with a degree in health science.

“I knew I wanted to work with kids,” she said.

After college, she spent time in Florida as an after-school counselor and pre-school teacher. She returned to the Valley in 2021 and worked with autistic children. She was also an assistant coach at Bridgewater College.

Waynesboro’s On the Road began in 2022 at Kate Collins Middle School and enrolls 100 students. On Mondays to Thursdays, approximately 45 to 50 attend the program regularly.

In August 2023, just as the KCMS 8th-grade class that began with On the Road matriculated to Waynesboro High School, the program expanded to the high school. Forty students are enrolled and approximately 15 attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The goal and the mission is to empower youth through academic support and career development,” Mickens said.

Students learn life skills, explore different career paths and in the spring will visit colleges in West Virginia and JMU in April. They have already toured EMU, Mary Baldwin University and Blue Ridge Community College.

“They deserve to be exposed to [college opportunities],” Mickens said.

More importantly, students learn about options outside of college. They learn about tailoring a resume toward a career and are made to feel a part of their community.

“Not everybody wants to go to college and that’s perfectly fine,” Mickens said.

On the Road staff hope to stay in touch with all participating students as they journey through Waynesboro High and after graduation. According to Mickens, Shyanna Davis, who is now On the Road’s youth leader, was part of the first group of students in 2015 in Harrisonburg’s On the Road at Skyline Middle School, and graduated Harrisonburg High and MBU.

“I’m big on building relationships,” Mickens said of working every day with Waynesboro Schools teachers, administration and the community.

Educators rarely receive instant gratification for their work.

“However, it doesn’t devalue the work you put in,” Mickens said.

She has won a highlight of the week after-school award in the past, but nothing compares to national recognition.

“It’s a very proud moment for me,” Mickens said.

The next expansion for On the Road is beyond Harrisonburg and Waynesboro.

“If we can expand and be throughout the Shenandoah Valley, that’s a goal for me.”

From March 17 to 20, Mickens will attend an award ceremony in Dallas and receive her NAA Next Generation After-School Leadership Award.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.