Please join Playworks North Carolina in celebrating our newest Coach of the Month – Coach Brittany Jarrett! Coach Brittany is a first-year program coordinator who comes to Playworks with a great amount of youth development experience. This strong background really shows in her program at Merrick-Moore Elementary in Durham, where she works hard every day to bring out the best in every kid!
Though Coach Brittany has only been with Playworks North Carolina for six months, since she was a mid-year hire, one would never know it from watching her interact with her students, teachers and fellow Playworkers. Right from the start, Brittany was a perfect fit with both the Playworks team and within her school. It takes a special kind of person to be able to dive right in to a school in the middle of the year, and Brittany was just the person for the job! She immediately set to work instilling the Playworks core values of respect, inclusion, healthy community and healthy play into her school while still making sure she did things with her own flair and style.
One impressive component of Coach Brittany’s Playworks program is her incentive system that she uses to keep her students motivated and on track. Brittany’s incentive system is unique in that it is based around ice cream cones. Each grade level has an ice cream cone displayed on a bulletin board in a high traffic area of the school. At the beginning, every cone was empty awaiting “scoops” that the students could earn at recess each day through positive behavior. Coach Brittany says she awards scoops when she sees students giving Hi-5’s, using positive language and ro-sham-bo (Playworks’ conflict resolution tool), working together, being respectful and (of course) having fun! Though the cones may have started out empty, every single one is now toppling over with scoops, as the students have worked hard all year to be grade level that earns the most scoops. When asked how her school has reacted to the incentive system, Coach Brittany says, “I have noticed a difference in the behavior of most of the students. I noticed that they work harder to get scoops; I find them reminding each other of the different rules. If I forget to put up scoops the students will remind me or they will remind me of the good deeds that they did during recess that day.”
Another unique component that Coach Brittany has brought to her Playworks program was a fun and informative event she planned and executed in order to increase community engagement within her school. The theme of her community engagement event was “Healthy Choices.” At the after-school event she talked to the students and families in attendance about the importance of exercising and making healthy food choices. One topic she introduced was “Eating a Rainbow Every Day.” In this activity she talked about aiming to eat fruits and vegetables of every color of the rainbow on a daily basis and then students were able to take home a worksheet that challenged them to do so for an entire week.
One of Coach Brittany’s favorite things to do is plan special events and programs for her school, so when she was approached by her P.E. teacher about helping plan the school’s field day, of course Brittany jumped right into the partnership! This school’s field day is not your typical field day: for starters, instead of being just one day, it was actually a SIX-DAY extravaganza with three days for the lower grade levels and three days for the upper grade levels. Each group had 12 indoor events and 12 outdoor events. Not only did Coach Brittany work hard planning several of the events herself, during each day she was also responsible for making sure each of the events ran smoothly and also served as scorekeeper. Her program manager, Ben, was impressed with Coach Brittany, saying; “She worked so hard helping to ensure a successful field day for the school. It was amazing to watch her put in so much effort into something simply because she knew that her school would enjoy it so much!”
Coach Brittany has done an amazing job with Playworks North Carolina in such a short amount of time. She has accomplished in six short months things that many people would be proud to have accomplished in a year. Not only has she stepped up by coordinating league sites but also by choosing to attend the first annual “Professional Development Day” in North Carolina, where she impressed the program managers, director, and executive director with her extensive knowledge of Playworks and her excellent public speaking skills. When asked what is the most rewarding part of being a Playworks coach, Brittany demonstrates those impressive speaking skills: “With Playworks I know that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I know that I am able to impact the lives of children each and every day. Each day I get to see the smiles of all 700+ kids at my school and I know that I have made a difference just by the looks on my kids’ faces. That is the most rewarding feeling.”
Way to create a place where every kid belongs, Coach Brittany! We hope you continue to put smiles on children’s faces for many years to come!
Get to know Coach Brittany:
1. What is your favorite Playworks game from the Playbook and why?
Castle Ball. I really enjoy playing Castle Ball with my students. I get to see my kids work together to achieve one goal. With Castle Ball the students don’t have to worry about their skill level — they can just have fun playing.
2. What do you like to do to relax/have fun?
When I’m trying to relax I love to watch movies. For fun I like to go bowling, have “Fun Days” with my nieces and hang out with my friends.
3. What was recess like when you were in elementary school?
Recess was nothing like Playworks. My recess consisted of a teacher just saying “Go play.” We had a few balls and the playground. The game that I participated in the most was kickball.
4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
If I could have any superpower I would want to be able to time travel. I selected time travel because I would be able to go back in time to any point in my life that is special to me. I also could go back in time to different historical events.
5. What is your favorite Playworks component and why?
It’s hard for me to choose just one component. All the components of Playworks are all equally important in their own way. However, if I had to choose one I would pick respect. Respect is important because many kids are taught that you have to earn respect, but here at playworks we teach kids that respect is free. We teach them to show consideration and appreciation for people that they come in contact with. By teaching a kid the importance of respect we can change their life.