Dear Playworks Georgia AmeriCorps Members,
As the 2016-17 school year winds down, we pause to recognize you, our dedicated and inspiring AmeriCorps coaches, for the tremendous difference you have made in our partner schools and, most importantly, in the lives of our community’s most vulnerable children.
I reflect back to last August when we all came together to learn everything about Playworks games, curriculum, and culture . . . and admit it, there was a lot to learn. I saw those deer-in-headlights looks and the quick scans around the room for the nearest exit. But then the “magic of Playworks” kicked in and once again, I marveled as connections evolved into relationships and the seasoned coaches encouraged the newbie coaches. The bonds of friendship were forged as phrases like “good job, nice try” and equally important, “we’ve got your back,” became the week’s mantra. I watched as the excitement and anticipation grew throughout the week as you waited to learn your school. I saw you in my mind’s eye as you blew up Google trying to learn everything possible about your school. As day one approached, you were ready and fortified with your Playworks game books, high fives, and words of encouragement. You told each other,"Let's do this."
I watched you over the next six months as your experiences elicited many new emotions: elation as the kindergarteners finally stood still for more than three seconds, pride as the Junior Coaches excitedly assumed their roles as school leaders with their confidence soaring, and frustration when it didn’t go quite so well. Yet, with each step forward and each step backward, you reminded me that resilient AmeriCorps coaches with resilient leaders supporting them every step of the way never give up! You didn’t give up because of who you are as a person. You didn’t give up because hundreds of children, your children, on the playground needed a reminder that someone knew their name. You still don’t give up because you know that the seeds you are planting have a chance of blooming when the time is right. You have faith.
As the year winds down, we come together to thank you for the amazing influence you have been and will continue to be, until the last cone is picked up and the last hula hoop is put away. Because of you, thousands of children have grown in more ways than you will ever know, and so have those of us who watch you from the sidelines.
In closing, as proud as I am of the transformation you’ve been responsible for in your schools, I’m equally proud of who you are as individuals. Each one of you possesses the protective power of the lioness (don’t even think about messing with my students!), the cleverness and resourcefulness of the fox (I’ll get those teachers playing yet!), and a heart for service as big as a golden retriever.
We thank you (and those who work behind the scenes too); we salute you; and, we honor you for being our very own AmeriCorps heroes.
Ellen McCarty is our Playworks Georgia Executive Director. Playworks Georgia currently employs ten AmeriCorps Members, six of whom are second-year members. Read more information about how you can join our team through AmeriCorps or contact our office at 470-855-9805.