Get to Know AmeriCorps Coach Claire Collins

  1. Updates

As a kid, Claire Collins loved recess. It was her time during the school day where she could play games with her peers, try new things, and imagine what life would be like as an adult.

However, recess for kids today is different. Kids aren’t always playing, and conflicts that arise on the playground often carry into the classroom. Now, as a coach for Playworks New England, Collins is working to restore recess to what she remembers, providing kids with access to safe and healthy play every day.

Collins works full-time with a diverse student population at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester. During school, she creates lesson plans for class game time and runs seven 30-minute recesses a day. She leads games to get kids moving and working together to achieve shared goals. After school, she helps 4th and 5th graders to become leaders through the Playworks Junior Coach program and helps girls to get in the game as a coach for Playworks’ girls’ basketball league. In school, Collins is a consistent adult role model who has helped to transform the school into an inclusive and fun community.

“The majority of my students are first or second generation Americans with families hailing from Ireland to Cape Verde to the Caribbean islands, and so for many students English is their second language,” says Collins. “However, play is a universal language that allows students to connect and learn from one another. I can’t think of a better teacher than play to help them develop social-emotional skills such as empathy, collaboration, and conflict resolution that are needed to be successful in the classroom, workforce, and beyond.”

As a Playworks coach, Collins receives weekly trainings to increase her knowledge of games and activities, navigate challenges on the playground, and share best practices to engage students and school staff of all backgrounds. She participates in workshops to build her own leadership and empathy skills and gets hands-on teaching experience working with kids to make an impact in her school community.

“It is my job to ensure my students have the resources and opportunities needed to play during the school day,” says Collins. “Playworks provides coaches with an incredible number of games, activities, and resources to facilitate programming and to really connect with and make an impact for our students and school communities at large. It’s a very supportive environment.”

Currently, Playworks New England is seeking more Playworks AmeriCorps Coaches, like Claire, to serve in elementary schools across Massachusetts. At Playworks New England, full-time AmeriCorps members commit to serving at least 1,700 hours, which is one full school year, starting in August. The position requires 40+ hours of work per week with some nights and weekends dedicated to sport leagues and community engagement events.

“As a Playworks coach, you get a lot of hands-on teaching experiences without jumping into a full classroom teacher role,” says Collins, who graduated from Harvard University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in history. “Not only do you get the support and network of a national nonprofit, the rewards of the job are the smiles and growth you see in your students. That is why I have decided to return as a Playworks coach and am already planning new recess experiences for the 2018-2019 school year!”

To join the play movement and become a Playworks AmeriCorps member through the Massachusetts Service Alliance, visit: https://www.playworks.org/about/careers/americorps/.

More Updates


September 15, 2021

Creating an Inclusive Playground ›

When children feel included on the playground, it gives them the space to learn and grow in an environment that they know will celebrate their wins and encourage them to learn from their mistakes. As recently highlighted on NBC, health experts are stressing inclusion for school children, which is why we’re focusing on it as…

NE Team
NE Team

September 8, 2021

Playworks Goes Back to School! ›

We know how important addressing children’s emotional needs is to recover from the learning loss and trauma felt throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s where Playworks steps in. Over the past few months, we have been preparing for modified in-person programming with the intention of bringing an impactful, safe, and fun recess to every child in…

September 1, 2021

2020-21 Year End Report ›

Schools were closed. Sports were cancelled. Recess was still on schedule. Throughout the pandemic, Playworks has been a ready and willing partner to schools across our network, helping to redefine the role of play in the lives of students dealing with increased stress, trauma, and anxiety. The support of dedicated partners helped Playworks continue to provide…