As the Director of the After-School Program at the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Shirley Pirantoni-Pineiro brings over 25 years of experience in advocating for youth and communities. The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Ms. Pirantoni-Pineiro faced numerous obstacles to success and, as such, recognizes the tremendous role that positive role models play in the development of young people. For this reason, she is dedicated to providing her largely immigrant youth constituency at the Shorefront YM-YWHA with a supportive and diverse staff that represents the community in which they work.
Ms. Pirantoni-Pineiro designs and creates activities with the intent to support and challenge her students, while also celebrating their diversity. At the Shorefront YM-YWHA, her program serves over 285 children from over 35 countries, for whom English is a second language. Through the Social Club, a time for group discussions, students are able to talk about the social pressures they are facing. Immediately following 9/11, there was a lot of fighting among the youth, many of whom were labeled as “terrorists” because of their nationality, and the Social Club provided a forum in which to discuss their fears and concerns over terrorism and the attacks in New York City.
While her program at P.S. 253 serves elementary students, Shirley has voluntarily reached out to the older siblings of her students by creating a counselor in training program. With 50 volunteers in the program, she trains these youth to be “change agents” for their community. Many of the youth receive community service credit through this program and, at the end of the training, are often hired to work in her program. When one volunteer stopped going to school, Shirley told her she could no longer serve as a role model for the students in the program. This consistent leadership and support encouraged the youth to return to school.
Constantly assessing the changing demographics of her community, Shirley is always in search of new resources that can be used by the community’s parents and students. She often serves as the bridge between the parents and the school and has been able to make referrals to a caseworker who is in the school two days a week. In addition, she works with parents to help them understand and be able to assess their children’s needs at school. Her open door policy towards students, volunteers, parents, school staff and after-school staff demonstrates her commitment to, trust in, and respect for her young people and the communities in which they live.
Born and raised in the South Bronx, Ms. Pirantoni-Pineiro has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in community building and educational programs from the Hunter College School of Social Work. She is a National School Aged Care Alliance (NSACA) Endorser and a certified trainer and facilitator for the Partnership for After School Education (PASE) and The After-School Corporation (TASC).