It is with great pleasure that Playworks North Carolina announces our November Coach of Month, Jodi Ballard. This is Jodi’s first year as an AmeriCorps member with Playworks and she has already done amazing work at Smith Magnet Elementary School.
Jodi has played a key role in Playworks North Carolina’s expansion this year as one of only four coaches serving in a Wake county school. Jodi went into her school really understanding the importance of getting these new Wake county teachers on board with her programming and showing them the benefits of a Playworks recess as quickly as possible. Thanks to her commitment to this goal, in just a few short months, Jodi has received excellent feedback from her staff and administration. She’s also built greater awareness for Playworks among Smith Magnet parents by attending morning “Coffee Talk” and talking about her role within the school.
Jodi has creatined an exceptional recess for the students at Smith. Setting up strong procedures and sticking by them well, Jodi has greatly improved Smith’s recess during her time there. Her program manager, Ben Neveras, says, “It has been very impressive to see how Jodi has transformed recess and implemented the Playworks program in a short period of time at Smith.” Along with a great recess, Jodi has also set up an impressive Junior Coach Leadership Program, and is training her Junior Coaches so well that they are already making her recesses even stronger.
Outside of school time, Jodi continues to go above and beyond. She stepped up and is serving as the secretary of Playwork’s North Carolina’s Development Committee. This committee meets once a month to brainstorm ways that they can support Playworks’ fundraising and community awareness efforts, and Jodi is often a big contributor to the conversations. Jodi has also taken it upon herself to research applicable grants to pass along to the development manager. In addition, when it comes to deadlines and paperwork, Jodi is a rockstar.Not only has she managed to meet every single deadline this year, she usually exceeds expectations by turning things in early to her program manager and program associate.
From her diligent work ethic, to her strong commitment to quality and appreciation for the Playworks’ way, Coach Jodi has truly created great momentum at her school. We at Playworks North Carolina are excited to see where the rest of the year takes her!
Get to know Coach Jodi:
What is your favorite Playworks component and why?
My favorite Playworks component is the Junior Coach Leadership Program (JCLP). The new component allows me to spend quality time with the kids who help carry this program throughout the school each and every day to parts that I may not be it. They take RoShamBo to the classrooms and positive language to PE. The curriculum is well thought out, and the kids most of the time don’t want to leave. It’s great to end my day on such a positive note with such a good group of students,.
What Playworks core value are you most drawn to and why?
The core value of INCLUSION is the value that most draws me in, mostly because I have a heart for special needs kids, and those kids that are labeled from day one as being a problem child or a loner, or anything of the sort. I strive to reach out to EVERY kid, regardless of what makes them different, and help them find a place they fit at recess. Whether its a more independent activity like jump rope or hula hoops, or a team game like soccer or castle ball, every kid has a place, and every kid should feel included.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
The super power I would most want would be invisibility. Often times I would love to be a fly on the wall during JCLP and listen to what my kids have to say, or in a classroom watching skills from recess transition inside. Additionally, I’d love to be able to watch over a game without kids knowing I’m there, just to see if there is any difference or to see the vast impact Playworks has had on the nature of conflict resolution, even when I’m not there!
What do you like to do to relax/have fun?
To relax and have fun I enjoy cooking, scrapbooking, and traveling. I love spending time with friends and family, and believe it or not I actually like to clean – it’s my OCD tendencies that bring that out!
Where is your favorite place in the world?
My favorite place in the world is home – and not home in the sense of the place, but the people. My favorite place in the world is wherever my family and my boyfriend are. They are the ones who make a place feel like home – and make exploring new places fun!