This month, we're honoring Aaron Mckinstry-Luepke as our Coach of the month for his work in the Stansbury Elementary after school program. Aaron has been working hard all year to improve the program at his school in order to make it more inclusive, more active and more fun for his students. His work has helped Stansbury be incredibly successful in engaging students out of school time and for this we honor him.
What is your background and experience?
I got my BS in Exercise and Sport Science with an emphasis in Exercise Physiology from the University of Utah in May, 2012. My previous experiences working with children include teaching tennis lessons in high school and being involved in the U-Fit Program for children with physical and mental disabilities during college.
What drew you to being a coach
I was drawn to being a coach with Playworks because I love being active, being outside and being healthy. I thought Playworks would be a good way to combine all these goals and create a positive impact on children in an under-served community. I also value the importance of service in one's life, which is why I was drawn to being a part of Playworks — specifically by completing a term of service in AmeriCorps.
What are some highlights of your program at your school?
The biggest highlights of my program at Stansbury Elementary include the Trash Pick-Up Program, the Game-of-the-Week system, and the after-school program. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived at Stansbury was that the recess yard was frequently littered with trash (sometimes dangerous objects, like broken glass), because of the public's use of a nearby business establishment. So, I thought "what a great teachable opportunity…" I taught the children the civic responsibility of keeping their area clean and the value of not littering to better the earth. They in turn received prizes for their assistance in picking up trash. In the end, the recess yard is much cleaner and much more safe for playing games.
Can you share with us a little bit about how you approach your after school program?
I designed my after-school program around the concept of giving students a choice about how they want to be active. Due to many circumstantial factors during the school day, students at Stansbury are not given many choices about what they can do. So, I give them a choice of at least two different physically-active games.
Other areas of enrichment are limited, so based on the interests and expertise of the teacher aides assisting with my program, we eventually added a music/dance class and an arts and crafts class as choices for the after-school program. I understand that at the end of a long day some children may be too tired to be active, so I give them options to enrich themselves in the arts. For those students who still need to "run out their wiggles," they can play active games with me.
Overall, I think the students greatly enjoyed their ability to choose their experience and have had a lot of fun over the course of the year.
*Coach of the month is not a competition. It is awarded for excellence in a Playworks program.