Program Spotlight: TeamUp

  1. Updates

Playworks offers a variety of service options to best meet the needs of our partner schools and youth serving organizations. TeamUp is a service that combines direct service and consultative support to schools to help build school staff capacity.

A Playworks Site Coordinator serves in a consultant role for their schools throughout the year, utilizing a “I do, We do, You do” gradual release model. They spend one day a week at each of their schools leading, supporting, and empowering the recess team to create a safe, healthy, and inclusive playground for all students.

Playworks Illinois has 16 TeamUp partners this school year, split between Site Coordinators Evan Berkey, Adina Gray, Charmee Jones, and Sarah Mascardo, and Program Specialist Aviva Abrams. They provide tailored experiences that fit each school’s respective needs and it can be challenging at times.

“Being a Site Coordinator is rewarding. I get to interact and get to know everyone that makes the school run: from the kitchen staff, engineer, to maintenance – which helps make my job easier. Walking into schools gives me an energy of excitement! Being greeted and seeing the smiles and excitement on the kids’ and teachers’ faces, along with the anticipation of what the day will bring and what games they will play, is a good feeling.” – Charmee Jones, Site Coordinator

When we enter into a TeamUp partnership with a school, our goal is to bring together elements of both Coach and Pro services. We want to create systems-level change for schools and establish a high-functioning, healthy recess that leads to positive student and school outcomes. Schools with TeamUp follow a lot of the same structure that our Coach schools do: a Playworks recess, class game time, and the Junior Coach leadership program. Unique to TeamUp is the addition of weekly action planning and ongoing professional development for school staff. So, what happens when the Site Coordinators aren’t onsite to implement best practices? School staff and teachers take on that responsibility as the “Recess Team” and put their Playworks training to the test for the days that Site Coordinators are offsite.

The Junior Coach Leadership Program is consistently one of our most popular components to partnership. The program encourages teams of students to work together to learn games, fair play, and positive conflict resolution strategies. Junior Coaches are then equipped to teach these skills and lessons appropriately to their classmates.

“Playworks is important at schools because it allows kids to become leaders of their school communities. Junior Coaches get to be faces of their schools and help other kids be encouraged that they can be future leaders as well.”- Evan Berkey, Site Coordinator

TeamUp has been around in Illinois since 2015 and we are so proud of the collaborative impact we have been able to achieve with our partners over the years. There are also plenty of exciting changes and developments to TeamUp this school year, like our district-wide partnership with Evanston/Skokie School District 65. We are looking forward to the impact in District 65 and for this partnership to grow.

If you’re interested in learning more about TeamUp and getting Playworks TeamUp at your school, contact our Director of Programs and Partnerships, Debbie Serota, at

Special shoutout to all our 2022-2023 TeamUp partner schools: Madison Elementary, William P. Nixon Elementary, Armstrong Elementary, Boone Elementary, Fuller Elementary, Mary Lyon Elementary, Brian Piccolo School of Excellence, Ray Elementary, Paul Revere Elementary, St. John de LaSalle School, Douglas Taylor Elementary, Oakton Elementary, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, Dewey Elementary, Dawes Elementary, and Bridge Elementary. You are all recess rockstars!

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