Crystal Knight is dedicated to developing inclusive schools with a positive school climate. When she came to Bellevue Elementary and Stony Point Academy in Santa Rosa, CA, she saw a playground with students grouped by race, gender and ability. In her role as a CalSERVES AmeriCorps member, Crystal was charged with developing a new recess program that was to be a model for the county. She did so much more.
Crystal and a team of playground supervisors participated in a four-day recess workshop, lead by Playworks National Trainer Kristina Walden. A few weeks later, Kristina visited Bellevue Elementary and was amazed. “Crystal really took to our core values and the strategies we provided and put it into action. Bellevue’s playground looks like a Playworks recess,” Kristina said.
Crystal led the team in creating an active and inclusive recess. In four months, discipline referrals to the principals office were down 50%. The recess team taught every student how to play core games, painted a bright, interactive blacktop, held assemblies with the principal on diversity and inclusion, and honored respectful and responsible students.
On the playground now, students of all ages are active and engaged in a variety of games. Kids are playing together and taking on special roles in game facilitation.
“It’s very important that we are intentional with play,” Crystal said. “It is easy for stereotypes to appear on the playground. Play is a really important peaceable moment for kids to deconstruct those stereotypes, have conversations about them, and eventually challenge them altogether.”
Crystal is moving on to get a master’s degree in higher education leadership, but she has laid a strong foundation for recess at Bellevue Elementary next year.
As Crystal’s supervisor Sara Craige tells her, “You have changed the face of Bellevue forever!”