Coach Alumna Brings Joy to School Community as Principal

Alumni Spotlight: Eleanor Alderman

Current Role: Principal, International Community School (ICS), Oakland, CA

Before Eleanor began her career in teaching and school administration, she was an AmeriCorps coach with Playworks (then called Sports4Kids). We sat down with Eleanor to learn about her journey from coaching to leading school communities.

Give us an elevator-pitch-style history about yourself.

I began my teaching career as a Sports4kids coach for two years. I had so much fun, but I really envied the classroom teachers and wanted my own class. I used the AmeriCorps education award to complete a credential program and became a bilingual classroom teacher for the next 11 years. I took a year off to finish my MA in Bilingual Education in Spain and decided on that trip to dive into an administrator role. I began New Leaders for New Schools that fall and am now in my second year as principal at ICS [International Community School], the most amazing dual language elementary school in Oakland! It also happens to be in the neighborhood where I live, which is a true blessing.

Tell us, who has been a consistent influence in your life? How have they shaped who you are today?

Definitely my parents. My mom is a teacher. Her parents were both teachers as well. My dad is the most patient and generous man I know. They have both carried me through what has been the hardest two years of my life as I learn to be a principal. It’s taken a lot of advice and family dinners, as well as phone calls to make sure I don’t sleep in my office.

When did you start working with Playworks?

I started serving with Sports4Kids in 2003 and was a site coordinator and coach at Anna Yates in Emeryville from fall 2003 through spring 2005.

What is your fondest memory at Playworks?

Going to Baltimore with my Sport4Kids crew to introduce the program to Baltimore Public Schools, a district where students had never had recess before.

How does the work you did at Playworks continue to influence your current role as school principal?

I use the exact same principles I learned from Playworks in my principal role. I work to create and sustain an organized, structured environment full of joy.

What do you do when you aren’t working? What other interests do you have?

I’m a dedicated member of the Crossfit Oakland clan. My gym community is my second family, and they help keep my work-life balance in check.

I use the exact same principles I learned from Playworks in my principal role. I work to create and sustain an organized, structured environment full of joy.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I went to high school in the Canary Islands.

What would be the most important thing you want people, who are just learning about Playworks, to know about the organization?

It’s an amazing way to begin a career in teaching. You can have an invaluable effect on school culture, and there’s no shortage of great people and rewarding warm-fuzzies from students who adore you.

If you have questions for Eleanor or want to connect, email her here

More Stories of Play

kids and adults on tv set
kids and adults on tv set

Developing leaders on and off the playground ›

Before Playworks came to Gustavo’s school, he says recess was bland with just three options for how to spend the time. After Playworks came, there were actual games, regulations for…

empty room with words painted on walls
empty room with words painted on walls

The Difference a Caring Adult Makes in the City of Good Neighbors ›

“Schools are going weeks without hearing from kids. Calling it a tragedy doesn’t do it justice. Even if kids are safe, they’re still lost kids because they aren’t connected,” Tyler…

Global Recess Alliance logo
Global Recess Alliance logo

Recess is Necessary ›

Researchers agree: it’s important to prioritize recess in how schools approach re-opening. The research community has come together to establish the Global Recess Alliance in an effort to bring attention…

kids with Coach Hoops
kids with Coach Hoops

Stories from the Playground: Coach Hoops ›

It’s not every day that a Playworks #AmeriCorps Coach is honored by the Los Angeles Lakers, complete with a basketball clinic hosted by legendary forward A.C. Green. Then again, being…