This week Playworks New England joins thousands of Americans across the country to celebrate the valuable contributions of the AmeriCorps members who pledge to “get things done” for our nation as part of the annual AmeriCorps Week. Since the beginning of the school year, our incredible AmeriCorps Coaches have been creating school and recess environments where every kid can thrive. This year, 17 Playworks AmeriCorps members have committed to a year of service in schools across Boston and Lawrence. Our Coaches give every kid on the playground the opportunity to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills every day.
During AmeriCorps Week, we celebrate their hard work and share stories of the positive impact they are making in our community.
Get to know four of our AmeriCorps Coaches serving in Boston Public Schools:
Henry Novak – 2nd year AmeriCorps member serving at the Orchard Gardens K-8 School
Leah Kelly – 1st year AmeriCorps member serving at the Ellis Elementary School
Sara Brodeur – 1st year AmeriCorps member serving at the Henderson Inclusion School
Krista Bailey – 1st year AmeriCorps member serving at the Boston Teachers Union School
1. Why did you choose a year of AmeriCorps service with Playworks?
Henry: I saw a lot of the work that Playworks did first hand from working in schools, and thought it would be a great fit for me and a good next step in my career. Once I started talking to them, I realized that they were already doing a lot of the social emotional education work that I was interested in doing.
Leah: When I was thinking about what I wanted to do after I graduated from college, I asked myself two questions: What populations do I want to serve? What brings me joy? The answer to both of those questions was kids, and once I found an open position for an Americorps Coach at Playworks I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me!
Sara: I believe that kids deserve adults who make magic for them every day. Each and every student deserves a safe, inclusive, kind place to play and learn about themselves and how they interact with the world around them. With Playworks I am able to create a healthy community among my students and decrease the incidents of bullying and increase prosocial behavior.
Krista: I have always been the kind of person who likes to give to others. I’ve been going on service trips since I was in 6th grade. To be able to do something out of college that includes giving back PLUS being able to have a focus on sports and physical activity made it even better!
2. What is the biggest impact you can make as an AmeriCorps member at your school?
Henry: We do so much great work and teaching, but the biggest thing for my kids is showing up every day and having another caring consistent adult in their life.
Leah: The biggest impact that I can make at my school is being a consistent adult who shows up for the kids every single day, ready to love them and play with them! It’s so important for them to see that adults can play and have fun too, and I hope to serve as a reminder of that every day at my school and encourage and empower other adults to play!
Sara: Being kind and showing kids that adults are humans too. Always admitting my mistakes even if it’s hard and just speaking to the students as the individuals they are. Providing a safe and kind space to process emotions and everyday things is one of the most impactful parts of my service year.
Krista: Being able to create positive relationships with the students and being there when they need me the most as a leader and mentor.
3. Can you share a good memory or something you have learned during your AmeriCorps service?
Henry: I tend to close in on the things that need to be improved in my programing and get frustrated. What I’ve learned to do is take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I might have two kids arguing at recess over a ball, but that means I have 98 kids having safe, healthy fun.
Leah: Something that I’ve learned so far in my year of service is that it’s important to meet kids where they’re at. We always imagine kids to be happy and cheery and ready to play, but kids can have bad days just like adults can, and it’s important to work through those feelings first to have a fun and productive play time.
Sara: Having a fifth-grader who is often a little shy and chooses to play on their own say that they want to be a Playworks Coach when they get older so they can make school and recess a more fun, kind place to be.
Krista: I did not realize how much of an impact I can have on my students, but when it was “Dress Like Your Favorite Teacher Day,” I got around 10 students who dressed up like me. I also did not realize how many students bring these games home with their families to play at home. To me, this means that I am making an impact on these students, which is really important to me.
4. What’s your favorite game?
Leah: My all time favorite game is Hula-Hoop Tag!
Sara: My favorite game is PK Soccer.
Krista: Fox Tails
Playworks is hiring AmeriCorps members for the 2020-21 school year! Click here to apply.