Playworks Massachusetts Teacher of the Month, Coach Dick

  1. Updates

Coach Dick Johnstin is a rock star Recess Coach at the West Somerville Neighborhood School in Somerville. This is the first year the school has partnered with Playworks and as soon as the opportunity arose, Coach Dick was more than happy to volunteer as the Recess Coach for the Playworks Team Up program. Coach Dick is enthusiastic about his role and makes sure that students have all the equipment they need to have a fun and inclusive recess. He is more than willing to listen to the Playworks Site Coordinator at the school and proudly implements any advice he is given. Previously the transition from lunch to recess at the school was hectic and loud, however Coach Dick now uses attention getters to make announcements in the cafeteria about what games will be set up at recess.

The Junior Coach program at his school has taken off and the students enjoy being selected as students leaders in the school. Coach Dick even has become a mentor to the cadre of 4th & 5th Grade Junior Coaches. He tracks their attendance, gives them advice about how to be patient and enthusiastic with younger students, and even helps coach them while they are out working. Coach Dick can be seen giving out high fives, greeting students as they enter the cafeteria for lunch, and he even jumps in and plays Banana Tag or Super Star Basketball out at recess! With his playful personality and dedication to mentoring at the West Somerville Neighborhood School, Coach Dick helps energize education for all.

More Updates


January 18, 2023

Building skills through play: adult engagement at recess ›

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January 10, 2023

Understanding the Complex Simplicities of Play ›

Play is a behavior that is natural and has existed for thousands of years and across species. It combines a set of made-up rules or norms and a willingness to explore. Researchers, scientists, and doctors have studied the effects of play on kids–and adults–and understand that this natural behavior has tremendous benefits. As the American…

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Looking forward to joy in 2023 ›

Over the last five weeks, we have been exploring the concept of joy. We’ve answered check-in questions on our Instagram based around joy, heard from five Coaches on Facebook about what brings them joy, and found out from students what about recess brings them so much joy. To close out the year, we have been…