Playworks Illinois has so many wonderful partnerships with schools and districts throughout Illinois. One partnership we’re highlighting is with Troy Community Consolidated School District located in Will County.
There are plenty of different pathways for partnerships with Playworks, so when Jill Tsoukalas, Executive Director of Instruction and Professional Development for the Troy school district reached out to Director of Programs and Partnerships, Debbie Serota in October 2021, she wanted to create a plan that would work for their district. One of the best parts about Playworks partnerships is being able to meet schools where they are and provide different levels of support based on their needs and wants.
Jill was looking to partner with Playworks for the 2021-2022 school year. Debbie and Jill agreed it would be best to start with a smaller pilot program in that school year, to better prepare for full district implementation the following school year. In the Spring of 2022, Playworks provided workshops focused on Recess Design and Game Facilitation, onsite consultation, and a Customized SEL Game of the Day Curriculum for their Summer Institute staff. Jill’s goal was for staff to be comfortable leading 30 minutes of play that allowed students to focus on building social and emotional skills like managing disappointment, inclusive play, and expressing gratitude.
Regional Partnerships Manager, Alexander Grassi worked with the Summer Institute staff on these goals. . The teachers loved it! Due to the overwhelming positive feedback from teachers, Jill and Nicole Counihan, the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, decided that their entire district needed Playworks and we were so excited to expand our partnership!
The Playworks team rolled out a plan that included Keep Playing(Not sure what Keep Playing is? Learn more here!) at every school, consultative visits from Playworks staff, and three different workshops for lunch and recess staff throughout the year. This partnership has been successful because of the engaged and dedicated adults, the support from administrators, and readiness from everyone to learn new things.
“Over the past few months we have trained lunch/recess supervisors, PE teachers, social workers, counselors, K-7 Summer School teachers, and Assistant Principals on recess design, large group management, and facilitating indoor recess. The professional development offered has been engaging for our staff and the on site support and modeling has been so helpful. Staff members that have engaged in the Playworks sessions have reported that they have learned new ways to interact with the students and have new strategies to gain the attention of all students as well offer redirection as needed. They have also learned more about how to facilitate students working and playing together as a team and have increased inclusivity in student activities”- Jill Tsoukalas
The trainings included recess and lunch staff as well as PE teachers and Assistant Principals. This will ensure a seamless transition for students from recess, to class, to gym and a shared understanding of expectations in the entire school. Having assistant principals from each building part of the workshops and partnerships has had a trickle down effect in the schools. We are seeing more impact and engagement from recess staff because they feel supported and encouraged in their work.
The Playworks team is thrilled to have seen so much success with the partnership and cannot wait to see how it grows and evolves in the future. If you are interested in bringing Playworks to your school or learning about what a partnership could look like, reach out to Director of Programs and Partnerships, Debbie Serota at email@example.com.