AmeriCorps Members are Heroes

  1. Updates
  2. AmeriCorps
  3. From the Playground
  4. Guest Blogger
  5. Washington DC

Guest blogger Kortney Thurman told her students about AmeriCorps, her students told her she’s a hero.

I joined Playworks as an AmeriCorps member in order to serve my community and impact the nation. I spend five days a week at Randle Highlands Elementary School, teaching games and engaging students, and I spend even more weekend days serving beyond the school. My students love all that I do for and with them. In their eyes, an adult who plays games with them is the best thing ever. They know about Playworks, but until recently, they didn’t know about AmeriCorps.

Last month, I was teaching a lesson to a second grade class when I told them that I was not only teaching them, I was also serving their community. Confused, they asked questions like: “Coach T, you are serving time? What did you do wrong?” I chuckled and explained that this was different, this service is for a good cause.

I told them I am an AmeriCorps member. To help them understand, I asked if they knew what would happen if a bad storm destroyed their homes.

Some kids said they would get tools and rebuild. Others said they would move. I explained that some AmeriCorps programs send people to help rebuild people’s homes when they are in need. AmeriCorps members volunteer to help people in need through different programs in schools and communities. I chose to serve with them!

When I shared this, their eyes got big and their mouths dropped open. They said, “Wow, Coach T. You are like a superhero and you play 1,000 games!”

Their reaction was priceless. They cheered and ran to give me a hug.

Even though these second graders don’t understand everything about AmeriCorps, they understood that I helped people and helping people is a good thing. This warmed my heart.

Following class, one student came up to me and said, “Coach T, it’s cool that you have helped other people and went to other schools to play with other kids, but I hope we never ever lose you, because you make us happy and we all love to play together.”

I can truly say AmeriCorps has changed me and opened my eyes to service even more.


Kortney Thurman is an AmeriCorps member and Playworks coach at Randle Highlands Elementary School in Washington, DC. Coach T, as her students call her, is a native of Anderson, Indiana and a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, where she was a long jump champion and studied social welfare, health and education. When not leading games, you might find Kortney watching a movie, working out, or cheering for the Dallas Cowboys.

More Updates


students playing on blacktop
students playing on blacktop

April 29, 2021

Leveraging Play to Address Learning Loss ›

In order to help kids recover from learning loss, we must ensure their emotional needs are met. We need to prioritize every child’s wellbeing, and that starts with acknowledging that many kids are healing from traumas caused by the pandemic, including social, emotional, and physical impacts of COVID-19.  “When children experience stress and trauma, it…

April 22, 2021

The Importance of Including Recess in School Reopening Plans ›

To elementary school leaders and teachers, When offering guidance on school reopening, the CDC and most states don’t specifically provide guidelines for recess. Yet, we know that kids, parents, and educators want to ensure returning to school is safe and feels fun for kids, and that should always include recess, because kids benefit from playing…

April 2, 2021

Playworks supports Kaiser Permanente’s Planning for the Next Normal at School Playbook ›

In response to the pandemic and greater impact on schools and children, our partners Kaiser Permanente released Planning for the Next Normal at School: Keeping students, staff, and families safe and healthy. The resource provides specific, evidence-informed guidance and operating procedures for keeping school communities mentally and physically safe, improving health in both in-person and…