“Three words I would use to describe Coach Shelby: hilarious, energetic, and committed.”
First grade teacher Ms. Schooler was not the only person to comment on Coach Shelby’s humor – it seems to be something her entire school community loves about her. “She comes tearing through my classroom almost every morning to say good morning to everyone and share a funny joke,” Ms. Schooler continued. “She’s constantly joking and playing with the kids.”
Shelby Obert is a third year AmeriCorps Coach serving at the Henry Grew Elementary School in Hyde Park. Coach Shelby’s dedication to her school, staff, and bringing safe and healthy play across her community has earned her the well-deserved title of Playworks New England’s Coach of the Year.
Coach Shelby is creative and is always looking for ways to get her students active and playing. While most schools opt for indoor recess when snow is on the ground, Coach Shelby grabbed a shovel and created a pac-man court on her turf field, facilitating a high-energy game of Pac-Man Tag. To encourage physical activity, she has students compete in races while they wait for their teachers to meet them at the end of recess. Even when she was coaching on Zoom during the pandemic, she found creative ways to get students active, involved, and connecting with each other through creative games and activities.
“Covid didn’t stop Coach Shelby at all,” says Ms. Schooler. “We still had our weekly Class Game Times and had just as much engagement virtually as in person.”
Coach Shelby has a way of making every single student feel special. If there’s ever a birthday, she sings an elaborate birthday song, complete with a cartwheel, to celebrate. If a student did great on a test, she’s there to share the joy alongside them and if they just need someone to talk to, Coach Shelby is always there.
“She is so approachable and infuses her work with humor… she just makes it really easy for the kids to feel comfortable around her and therefore included at recess and during Class Game Time,” says second grade teacher Ms. Henry.
Above and beyond her interactions with her students, Coach Shelby has shown her commitment to the connection between play and social emotional learning through intentional Class Game Time lessons focused on respect, inclusion, and other core life skills.
“I never realized how closely the two [play and SEL] were connected until I worked with her… we’ll be playing a game and everyone is having fun, and then she’ll stop and say ‘What are we working on?’ and discuss,” says Ms. Henry. “It’s flawless how she gets kids to work on these skills that they so desperately need coming out of a pandemic while just actually having fun with their friends.”
In addition to her “high level execution of Playworks programming,” as noted by her Program Manager Dana Harris, Coach Shelby has proven herself to be a critical part of both the Playworks team and the Grew community.
“She’s a team player,” says Grew Principal Ms. Simon. “Coach Shelby can be found supporting in the cafeteria and classrooms with teachers, and overall her willingness to get in the game and support the entire community is what makes her a great asset and a great Coach.”
Coach Shelby will be featured on a speaking panel alongside Carolina, our Principal of the Year during our Get in the Game Breakfast on May 6th. To hear more about her impact and commitment to play, community, and her school, be sure to join us at the breakfast. Reserve your tickets and RSVP today.