This month we're honoring Meredith Dolny as our Playworks SLC Coach of the Month! Coach Mere is brand new to Playworks this year, but she’s jumped in with both feet… and the entire rest of her body. Mere’s infectious energy and enthusiasm have served to make her one of the most popular people ever among Sandy Elementary students as well as teachers and parents.
"I’ve personally been approached in Salt Lake City supermarkets many times by parents wondering if I know Coach Mere" says Program Manager Ben Cromwell. "They see the Playworks logo on my shirt and can’t help but gush about how excited their child is about school now that they have coach Mere to look forward to every day. The relationships she cultivates with everyone she meets are absolutely amazing,."
That’s why Mere is our December coach of the month. Congratulations and keep up the exceptional work!
Q&A with Coach Mere
What is your background and experience?
Before I became a part of the Playworks family, I was living in Grand Junction, CO. While attending Colorado Mesa University, I played volleyball and coached the ages of 12-17 years old. I also worked for the recreation department through the city, working countless events involving youth in sport camps, leagues, and competitions. Both jobs focused on youth athletics and I loved developing their skills as young athletes. I was fortunate enough to have similar opportunities growing up and I credit my coaches for being the role models I needed.
What drew you to being a coach with Playworks?
Although I loved the programs I worked for, I had never seen such emphasis on social-emotional empowerment through “play.” Many can look at recess and see just a game of foursquare or a way to get students active, but Playworks focuses on what could come from recess. We are able to develop our students’ social skills and give them opportunities to be successful. I have always had a competitive drive (which can be seen during a speedy basketball game of Lightening) and I get to show students how to compete while also being respectful. Did I mention I get to play games all day with students?
What are some highlights of your program at your school?
Most of the highlights of my program come from the participation of my staff. I have noticed our successful class game times tend to have teachers that participate, no matter how “silly” they might look. At recess, having a teacher jump into a quick game of wall ball or switch also creates a better atmosphere. The sense of a safe and fun community that I strive for at school can be created through an act as simple as twirling the jump rope. When my students see their own teachers dealing with being successful or unsuccessful in a positive way, they are able to do the same.
Could you share some tips about how you've managed to build such amazing rapport with your students, staff, administration and Parents?
I have always taken it upon myself to go the extra mile to get to know people. Whether it is getting to school early to have some free-time to catch up with my principal, singing our favorites songs while having breakfast with my students, or popping my head into the office to let the ladies know how much I appreciate them, everyone in my school gets a dose of Coach Mere each day. I am very fortunate to have a large number of parents who are involved with our school that I get to see each week.
One thing that I took away from our pre-service training was to “be seen”. Obviously our schools entire population will catch a glimpse of me running around outside with recess, but I think even the tiny moments in the hallway with a high five add up. The relationships I have built with my students aren't just from playing games at recess: the extra time I take to get to know them adds to the community that I want for our school. I would like to give a shout out to my PTA, my administration and the staff at Sandy Elementary. Through their extra effort, our students have made drastic, positive changes in so many areas and I am grateful to have their support. Go Sharks!
*Coach of the Month is a non-competitive award we give to our coaches to honor them for running amazing Playworks programs at each of their schools. Coach of the Month can’t be won, it can only be accepted.