5:45am, Coach A’s alarm goes off.
She throws on her recognizable Playworks blue t-shirt, eats a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich (on a biscuit, not a bagel – very important!) and heads out the door, ready for a day full of tag, RoShamBo, and giving out high fives.
Antriese Suarez (“Coach A”) is a first year AmeriCorps Coach at the Rafael Hernandez School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. After graduating from Salem State University in May 2021 with a degree in Psychology and Social Work, she applied to be a Playworks Coach through the recommendation of her sister-in-law, who was a former Coach in New England.
“I figured I’d keep [Playworks] in the family,” she joked.
7:30am, time for school!
Coach A spends her time before students arrive getting her equipment ready for the day, printing and preparing paperwork for programs such as the Junior Coach Leadership Program, and setting up her recess yard. Once the clock hits 8:10am, however, she’s outside helping with Kindergarten arrival, giving out high-fives and smiles, and helping students get to class on time.
The beginning of any school year can be hectic, especially when returning from a pandemic, so one of Coach A’s priorities for the first few months of school is getting students used to recess routines and expectations. At the beginning of every recess, she reiterates important things for the day, such as games that are available, expectations around respecting and including everyone, and safety reminders such as what equipment or areas of the recess yard are off limits.
10:30am, let’s go to recess!
K1 recess is her first of the day, followed by 5th and 6th grades. With such a drastic age difference in back to back recesses, Coach A makes sure to set up the recess yard accordingly with a focus on simpler games with kindergarten, but larger group games such as Kickball with the older students. 2nd and 3rd grade recess is full of Zombie Tag and Soccer, and on the combined K2 and 1st grade recess yard, Cookie Monster Tag is a fan favorite. Coach A wraps up recess with 4th grade before taking a quick lunch break.
Before and after recess, Coach A’s schedule is packed with Class Game Times, which are opportunities for her to meet with a single class and teach them a series of games based around core skills that she wants to see demonstrated at recess. In the first couple months of school, her primary goals have been setting boundaries at recess and teaching kids how to resolve conflicts on their own using RoShamBo. To demonstrate these skills in a fun, engaging way, she has been facilitating games such as Alligator Swamp Trail and Rock, Paper, Scissors Rockstar, both of which her students love.
3:00pm, wrapping up another day as a Playworks Coach.
Around 3pm, Coach A puts away any equipment still outside, makes sure she has things set-up for the next day, and helps with bus duty to close out the school day, ending the day the same way she started: high-fiving students and making sure they leave school with a smile on their faces. Even though school has just started, the mutual respect and love between Coach A and her students is apparent.
“The kids are definitely the best part about being a Playworks Coach,” says Coach A. “Their energy helps me a lot, and knowing that even if I make a mistake they still love me at the end of the day. It encourages me and reminds me that I’ve got this!”
Interested in being a Playworks Coach? Check out open positions here.