Playworks North Carolina is excited to announce our newest Coach of the Month – Coach Brittany Morgan! This is Brittany’s second year with Playworks and it is also her second time receiving the Coach of the Month award. She is the first Program Coordinator in North Carolina to earn such a distinction! Brittany has been the Coach at Sandy Ridge Elementary in Durham for the past two years, and she always goes above and beyond to provide the very best for every child within the school.
One area where Brittany really shines is with her Junior Coach Leadership Program (JCLP). This is a new after- school program component here in North Carolina, but right from the start Coach Brittany has been excited to make the most of this time with her fourth and fifth grade leaders. “Brittany does an amazing job with her JCLP. She really puts a lot of time and energy into planning out the lessons for the week. She looks weeks ahead at the lessons and pulls out different activities that she wants to do and which ones she knows her students will enjoy,” says Brittany’s program manager, Janelle Averill. “Each day before they begin their lesson or activity, Coach Brittany holds a ‘Family Meeting’ on the carpet where they review highlights from their recess shifts and review the agenda for the day. This helps create a great sense of community and inclusion among her students.”
Brittany has also set up an awesome incentive system for her Junior Coaches called “Who Rocks?” (in the theme of the Playworks cheer, “Who Rocks??? YOU ROCK!!!”). In this incentive system the students earn actual rocks to fill up their incentive jar. At the end of each JCLP meeting the students talk it out about how many rocks they earned that day. For each expectation for which the students can earn a rock, they give a thumbs up, thumbs in the middle or thumbs down for how they think they did that day. If the group has a mixed vote, they talk it out. Brittany has done a great job creating a strong team of Junior Coaches through her JCLP.
When asked what her favorite Playworks component is, she quickly mentions JCLP. “I absolutely cherish the time we get to spend together and the strong team bond we have been able to create. I think with the addition of this program we (at Playworks) can honestly say we have a youth leadership development component, since JCLP provides the time to work on important skills such as inclusion, conflict resolution, and communication. I think the skill that stuck with my Junior Coaches the most is how to be assertive. Many of them have taken this to heart and continue to reflect on their actions, always striving to stand up for their rights as well as the rights of their classmates,” says Coach Brittany.
Recently, Coach Brittany partnered with the Guidance office at her school to create and host a game night for the families of the school. The theme of the night was “Activity Builds Character” and proved to be a wonderful opportunity for students and their families to come and engage in meaningful play and conversations. That night, Coach Brittany’s Junior Coaches led a variety of games for all in attendance. Also, there were posters on display throughout the game stations with fun questions and statements that were used to prompt conversation among families where both sharing and active listening skills were encouraged. Coach Brittany put in a lot of hard work for this event and it paid off for everyone involved.
One of Sandy Ridge Elementary’s main themes is showing self control, and Coach Brittany went above and beyond this year by creating an initiative that tied this theme together with her recess perfectly. In a shaded area of her recess space, Brittany decided to start a “Zen Den” for her students. The Zen Den is a nice retreat where children can go to calm down and relax. In this area Brittany has printed out and displayed various yoga poses for the students to try out while they are there. Coach Brittany says, “The Zen Den typically has a diverse group participating. It also serves as a great example for my students who are coping with anger control issues or various aspects of stress of how breathing and an inner focus can change our outlook. Teachers are seeing the benefits of yoga in dealing with some of their more challenging students as well, and are using it as a way for students to reflect and take their time to regroup and come back. I enjoy seeing students try something new and better understand peace.”
It is clear to anyone who has met Coach Brittany how passionate she is about helping children feel successful and included when they step foot on her recess space, and this fact becomes even more apparent when Brittany shares why she wanted to start working with Playworks: “I was seeking out positions that would allow me to engage with students to promote wellness and protect all components of their well-being. With Playworks, I am able to be a champion for each and every child. I provide a place for everyone, make everyone feel safe, and allow for us all to be respected as individuals in our school community. Playworks has allowed for me to be a resource for teachers and show them how play and physical activity is vital.”
A huge congratulations to Coach Brittany on being named Coach of the Month for the second time during her Playworks career. Thank you for creating a healthy place where every kid belongs!
Get to know Coach Brittany:
What is your favorite game from the Playworks Game Guide?
I really enjoy Castle Ball. I think that it incorporates so many of our important social skills. Teams are using cooperation to keep their castles standing. They are communicating and designating roles of throwers or protectors. Players must use strategy for how they best want to go about the round. It really builds a sense of community. In every game there exists so many teachable moments. Plus it is the perfect game for me to include some healthy competition.
What is your favorite sport to watch? What is your favorite sport to play?
My favorite sport to watch is baseball. Specifically I enjoy watching the New York Mets. I grew up watching them and going to games many Saturdays. As for playing, I really love volleyball.
What do you like to do to relax/have fun?
I love to dance. I find it is a great way to let loose and unwind. I have recently started to practice yoga and find it a great mix between challenging and relaxing. Of course my favorite thing to do is spend time with Baxter (my pup).
If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
I would like to have the power of communication. This power would allow for me to speak any language so I could converse with any individual in their native language. I would love to be able to learn so much more about various cultures and countries.
What is the most rewarding part of being a Playworks coach?
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that you are making a life better. I can see this in the smallest of interactions. When I see a child feel comfortable being themselves I know I played a role in that. You learn so much about individuals when you see them engaged in play. Being with most of my kids for two years now we have become a close group. As new kids came into our school family it has been rewarding to see us embrace them for who they are and see them feel safe to express themselves.