Coach Transitions from Support to Leader of a Playground

  1. Updates

Connor Cushman joined the Playworks Utah team in December as a flex program coordinator. As a flex, he divided his time among all of our schools, helped support other coaches’ programs and got to know the entire population of 5,500 students we serve. In February, he was assigned to Meadowbrook Elementary in the Davis School District, where he’s been providing exciting, meaningful and fun recess programming ever since. Read below to hear how our newest coach is enjoying his year of service.

I graduated from college with a degree in psychology. After college, I taught skiing and outdoor education in Maine. Before joining the Playworks this year, I substitute taught and worked in a ski and bike shop.

This job seemed to align perfectly with my desire to work with kids, promote healthier communities, and get involved with a great nonprofit organization. I was immediately drawn to the mission of Playworks: to utilize play to bring the best out in every kid. Being a coach requires you to do so many different things, and it’s exciting everyday. To me that is one of the best part of my role as a Playworks coach.

One of the highlights of my program is gender and age integration. I love to see kids of all genders, ages and skill levels playing big games together at my school. I think it is one of the special aspects of my program. Because it is a smaller school, the recess periods feature mixed grade levels, and it makes me happy to see the older kids playing with the younger kids all of the time.

Transitioning from a flex coach to having my own school has had its own set of new challenges and experiences for me. Before, as a flex, I had the opportunity to learn from all of the other programs that I visited and I am able to implement successful elements into my own school program now. It has also been nice for me to stay in one spot and get to know a single school community much better than I previously would have.

Everyday I am satisfied going to and from work knowing that I am serving my community. I hope that what I do helps my community, even if it is a small contribution. Being an AmeriCorps member makes me feel good about what I do.  The knowledge that I am serving and working to strengthen the community is my favorite part of being a member.

More Updates

January 10, 2023

Understanding the Complex Simplicities of Play ›

Play is a behavior that is natural and has existed for thousands of years and across species. It combines a set of made-up rules or norms and a willingness to explore. Researchers, scientists, and doctors have studied the effects of play on kids–and adults–and understand that this natural behavior has tremendous benefits. As the American…

August 24, 2021

Playworks Founder Jill Vialet Publishes ‘Why Play Works’ ›

Play brings out the best in every kid. Over the course of 25 years since Jill Vialet founded Playworks, she and her colleagues, as well as researchers and play experts, have demonstrated precisely how and why play works to help kids learn and grow in the most positive and healthy ways. Jill gathered stories from people…

Teacher in classroom
Teacher in classroom

May 13, 2021

Playworks and the Community Foundation of Utah Join Forces to Play it Forward ›

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Playworks and the Community Foundation of Utah Join Forces to Play it Forward Salt Lake City, UT—May 11, 2021—Playworks announced today that it has joined forces with the Community Foundation of Utah to offer immediate relief to Computer Science educators throughout the state with strengthening classroom experiences through fun, engaging play-based resources. …