Below is a story from Coach Micah at Theuerkauf Elementary in Mountain View. He shares the story of a Junior Coach, Emily who finds more than play from Playworks.
When people come to observe schools that have Playworks and the Junior Coaches in their purple shirts leading games around the playground, they often assume that these students have it all together. They started off at the top of their class, they are part of the “cool kids” on campus, and everyone wants to be just like them. This was not the case for Emily.
This is Emily’s second year being a Junior Coach, but just up until recently it did not mean much to her. While she was generally a good kid, there was not much that stood out about her. She did not excel at anything in particular and she felt like she had a hard time holding onto friendships. There would even be times when she just broke down during lunch or Junior Coach meetings and started sobbing that she has no real friends. In the beginning of this year, she hit her all time low when she was kicked out of the reading intervention program for failing to keep up with work, was teased by another group of girls, and constantly felt that she did not belong as a Junior Coach. All these things weighed very heavily on her.
After talking to her 5th grade teacher, I decided to make a proposition with her. If she worked hard in her reading intervention class, turned in all the classwork and homework assignments, turned in consistent reading logs, and took a reading assessment test at least once a week, her teacher and I would fully support her being a Junior Coach. At that point, something clicked on in her head, and she made the decision to work hard at her schooling so that she could stay as Junior Coach.
It has been 3 weeks since then, and now for 3 weeks in a row she has turned in all her reading logs, all assignments, and her teacher feels that the Junior Coach program is an awesome motivator for her to stay on track with her academics. On the playground, she is more carefree than ever, and her confidence, which I knew was there all along, now really shows when she commands her games.
I’m so proud to be a part of Playworks that has so many components that reach out to students in different ways. Playworks is not just about playing. For some, it is a way to become more responsible and develop confidence through leadership that so many students need.
Your support helps to train over 200 amazing Junior Coaches, like Emily, to be leaders at each of our partner schools. Thank you!
Meet Junior Coach Rafaella from Portland, Oregon. Rafaella mentors younger students using her creative energy, enthusiasm and charisma! When she leads tag games at recess with younger kids, they flock to her enthusiasm. Even students as young as kindergartners know to expect the unexpected with Rafaella. New and silly rules get added, and special roles get handed out. Anything is possible in a game with Junior Coach Rafaella. Rafaella always includes as many students as possible from all different classrooms and social groups. She treats every student with an equal amount of respect, and games are always played safely without anyone being left out or behind with her leadership. Watching Rafaella draw other students in with her charisma and zaniness is one of her best qualities. She is an outstanding Junior Coach and a leader in the Beach School community.
A new school year has begun and we’re excited to have new Coaches join our expanding team, and new partner schools investing in play. In 2014-2015, Playworks will serve 12,000 kids daily in 24 low income schools across the Portland metro area and Vancouver, Washington. Click here to meet all our Coaches, and click here to see the list of partner schools.
We'd like to introduce you to recess rockstar Junior Coach Desmond. Desmond is a 5th grader at Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School. He loves to play 3-line basketball and 4-square at recess with his peers and younger brother. As a Junior Coach he helps Coach Ruby on the playground to lead games, encourage others, and give out high-fives and positive support. He's leaning to be a leader and helping to make his playground and school more inclusive and fun. Your support helps to train 360 amazing junior coaches to be leaders and peer mentors at each of our partner schools. Thank you!