CYP: Supporting the Mission

Photo By Megan Mills | 210809-O-UX196-1018 NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy (Aug. 9, 2021) Kenya Woods , a primary teacher at the Sigonella Child Development Center, poses for a photo for an article in the base paper. NAS Sigonella’s strategic location enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to deploy and respond as required to ensure security and stability in Europe, Africa and Central Command. (U.S. Navy photo by Megan Mills)



Story by Megan Mills 

Naval Air Station Sigonella 

Taking care of the families onboard NAS Sigonella is an integral part of the mission, and the dedicated employees of the Children and Youth Programs (CYP) work hard day in and day out to keep kids safe, happy and healthy.

People who work at the Child Development Center (CDC), School Age Care (SAC), and Teen Center come to their positions in a few different ways. Some employees, known as global hires, applied for a job with CYP and move their families to Sicily with them. Others employees, known as local hires, are spouses or dependents of people already stationed here who are looking for a career they can take from base to base.

“The Employee Transfer Program (ETP) ensures that direct care staff have a job no matter the Navy base they move too,” said Sigonella’s CYP Director Adam D’Amico. “This way, they can continue their career uninterrupted, and will always have a job, regardless of open positions at the next installation.”

The ETP is not just for those moving with active duty personnel. “This is also great for those families that either retire or get out of the military,” said D’Amico. “The transfer program is not necessarily linked to a permanent change of station. If you decided that you wanted to move to Virginia Beach, there are several installations that you could transfer to, no problem.”

While many people bring a love of children and education to their jobs, that’s not all it takes to work at CYP. There are several training requirements, such as an in-depth module-training program created in partnership with Ohio State University. Each program is designed around a staff member’s specific position, such as working with infants, preschoolers or school-aged children. There are even modules for managers and trainers.

More information on the module program can be found at

Regardless of their positions, all staff have comprehensive individual development plans for various training that they complete throughout their career. Luckily, CYP does not stop there. If you are interested in obtaining a credential such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) or Military School Age (MSA), Navy CYP will pay for the cost to get these certifications. Additionally, full-time eligible staff can apply for tuition reimbursement for college credits relating to their position.

D’Amico took advantage of these opportunities himself. “I just recently utilized this to complete my master’s in education this past February,” he said.

Although COVID-19 mitigation measures have changed some of the policies and regulations at the CDC and SAC and have required the closure of the Teen Center, what hasn’t changed is the dedication and care these employees show to the children and the mission.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at just two of the outstanding teachers at Sigonella’s CYP!

Kenya Woods, CDC Primary teacher

What’s a typical workday like?
I come in every day at 6:30 and clean and sanitize the classroom tables and shelves. Then I set up several choices of activities for the children to work on skills like fine motor, gross motor, problem solving, cause and effect, etc. I make sure everything is ready before 7 a.m. when the building opens. We have a daily schedule in our classroom with our routines. I’m the primary teacher for five students, and I’m responsible for observing them and creating specific lesson plans for them. I work eight hour days with an hour for lunch. I also have lesson planning on Monday and Tuesday, trainings on Thursday, and I work on my CDA on Friday.

How did you decide to work for CYP?
I have a lot of passion working with children, and CYP is one of the few facilities here on base that offers a great opportunity for spouses to be able to work while stationed overseas.

What’s your relationship with your coworkers like?
I didn’t actually have any friends in Sigonella until I started working here. I live out in town and I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t have any family here so the first thing I did was apply for jobs! CYP was the only one who offered me an opportunity and it’s been great. I feel like working here is a great way to meet people and get engaged with the community.

What is your favorite part of the job?
The children. They make it all worth it. I do have hectic days and it’s not an easy job. It can be a lot of pressure, but we try to make our environment as stress-free as possible. Just seeing their growth, their development, and their milestones is all very rewarding. To be able to support military families who are over here—you know, we have to support each other. We’re all far away from family, friends, and comfort zones. It’s a whole different environment over here, and it’s good to support each other.

What are some of your career goals?
I want to finish my CDA and then go for my master’s degree. I’d like to become a lead as soon as I can, but for now I like to mentor and support my staff in the growth and development of the children in my care.

What’s your favorite part of Sicily so far?
My favorite part of Sicily is Palermo! I love sightseeing. It’s beautiful for shopping. The food is good. The people are friendly, so I really do like Palermo. Cefalu is also beautiful.

What do you want Sigonella to know?
The CYP is a great family-oriented facility that offers a great opportunity for spouses who love children to work. We are a learning facility, and we thrive on continuously training educators to support our military families.

Crystal Garcia, CYP Leader

What’s a typical workday like?
During summer camp, I check into the building by 8:30 AM, get up to speed on how the morning is going, and jump in to the classroom with the children. After breakfast, we head to the park or the courtyard for outdoor activities. During lunch, I have conversations with the youth on things like healthy eating, plans for the weekend, or favorite superhero character. Then it’s time for lesson plan activities. In my short time here, we have done many fun/ educating things such as making pillows, pasta from scratch, bottle rockets and tie-dye T-shirts. No two days are alike!

How did you decide to work for CYP?
Working for CYP came to me while I was working at a Dunkin’ Donuts. I graduated college with my recreation degree and had briefly learned about the MWR department for the Navy in one of my courses. I assumed that active-duty spouses were the ones holding these jobs. One day while serving a customer a coffee, I realized she had on a Navy MWR name tag. I asked her how I could get into the program because I’d always wanted to work with kids and put my degree to use. A few days later she came back and gave me all of the information I needed to apply. A few months later I got a job with Sigonella CYP and I have never looked back.

What is your relationship with your coworkers like?
My CYP family has made me feel welcomed and appreciated in the short time that I’ve been here. I got here on a Sunday, and Monday was my first day working. It was also my birthday! They asked if I wanted to go to dinner, and I said sure, and I go and there’s a huge surprise party for me! There was a cake, a huge charcuterie board and everyone was there celebrating. It was so beautiful.

What is your favorite part of the job?
It never changes, no matter where I’m at—it’s being with the kids. There are so many different personalities, getting to know them, doing fun things, and introducing them to new stuff—it’s always the kids.

What are some of your career goals?
I definitely would stay within the MWR Youth Services Realm. I’m stuck between whether I want to go back to school or not, but I know that I’m what they call “a lifer.” I will be with MWR for a very long time! What’s your favorite part of Sicily so far? The food, of course! I’ve been to the beach a lot. They’re beautiful!

What else do you want Sigonella to know?
CYP is an amazing program that gives you lots of opportunity for growth. No matter your level of education, they will support you and help you master your skills. I am grateful to be here and look forward to learning from my peers, families, and youth.

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