Meet Our Staff 


The BLAST staff work closely with the classroom teachers and the school principal, providing continuity between the school day and before/after school activities.  Each of our dedicated staff is CPR/First Aid Certified.  Our program has been endorsed by the Poway School District and maintains involvement with other community organizations, public agencies and volunteers to provide a broad spectrum of family resources.



Melanie Beckstrom, Program Director
and 5th Grade Group Leader

Melanie is passionate about children and has many years of experience working with children of all ages.  She was the Office Administrator at Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool in Colorado from 1983-1987.  She was the Director of Children at Grace Community Church in Colorado from 1987-1993.  Melanie has been the Director of BLAST since 1998.  She and her husband have 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren.


Victoria Harr, since 2009
2nd Grade Group Leader / Administrative Assistant

Vicki was a legal secretary for 48 years and a teacher's aide at the elementary level for 2 years.  She is an accomplished public speaker, teacher and published author.  Vicki has written three books which can be viewed on her web site at  She is married, and the mother of 2 children and 4 grandchildren.


David Hetherington,  Benefits Coordinator and 4th Grade Team Member

David retired in 2009 as Deputy Director of Ship Management after 37 years in the shipbuilding industry. He has enjoyed many years working with children.  For 25 years he coached recreational and competitive youth soccer.  He worked two years in the AWANA program at New Hope Church. He is also a dedicated Sunday School Teacher and leads a preschool class at MOPS. David has 5 children and 7 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter. He loves to golf and fish in his spare time.


Valerie Nelson, 4th Grade Team Member

Valerie has over 18 years of experience volunteering with all age groups of children.  She was working in accounting for many years and then able to be a stay-at-home mom where she had many volunteer leadership roles working with children.  Valerie and her husband, Bud, have 2 adult daughters.

Karen Anderson, 04th Grade Team Member

I have raised 3 wonderful children and have also provided afterschool and summer childcare in my home.  I volunteered with Girl Scouts and New Hope Church Youth Group for many years.  I love crafts of all kinds and have been collecting dolls for over 25 years.  I also have 4 grandchildren.  

My goal this year is to provide a comfortable, safe and loving environment for the children each morning when they arrive at school.


Elizabeth Szmaglinski, 3rd Grade Group Leader and & Morning Support 

Elizabeth enjoys working with children, having worked in The Poway School District for 12 years. She is currently at Oak Valley Middle School and returned to BLAST after a brief interruption to care for her mother. Elizabeth was born and raised in Poland. She is married and has two teen-age children.

Charmaine Mallari,   Morning Supervisor & K/1st Grade Group Leader 

I started at BLAST as a high school volunteer and then became a full time staff member. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.  I love to dance and karaoke in my spare time.  I am majoring in Child Development.

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Nancy Hazzard,   Nancy is an SDSU Graduate in Communications /English.  She loves travel, hiking, dogs and kids! She is looking forward to spending her mornings involved in the BLAST Program.

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Ryan Najimy, New Program Director.

Over the past 5 years, I have worked as an ESL Kindergarten Teacher, YMCA Camp Unit Leader, and the Site Supervisor of Character Builders Before/After School Program at Silver Gate Elementary.
I have consider my most important job to be helping children with medical issues during my recent three-year stay, working with a medical non-profit in Vietnam . I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with your children, getting to know their personalities, learning styles, and interests. I will celebrate their successes, small and large. I will encourage them every day and let them know they are valued and have a special place in our Program at BLAST.