In honor of AmeriCorps week, we’d like to highlight a story from one of our AmeriCorps members. Coach Courtney, is making a difference one day at a time by being continually positive and consistent presence on her playground.
The school I’m serving has a challenging 5th-grade population. Within the fifth grade, there are several students known by name by every faculty member due to their frequent infractions and behavior issues. A student who I’ll call Nathan is one of these students. He is often rude to teachers, instigates fights, wanders the halls, acts defiantly, and often alienates classmates with his abrasiveness.
One week, our principal suspended the 5th grade from the soccer field after seeing tackling and fighting behind my back on the playground cameras. The principal told them that they could only be on the field if I was supervising a game in the tag square. On my way out to recess, I ran into Nathan in the hall and invited him to come play “Watch Your Back Tag” and he replied: “That sounds dumb. Nope.”
I recruited several 5th-grade soccer players and others displaced from the field to facilitate a fun, large game of “Watch Your Back Tag.” Seeing how much fun everyone was having, Nathan wandered over and started playing. After recess, I gave him a high five and asked him if he had fun. “Yeah, that was actually pretty fun,” he replied with a smile.
Nathan did not become a perfect student after this interaction but I have noticed him playing together more often with other students, and I go out of my way to have positive interactions with him on the playground and in the hallway.
There are about 600 students from all over the world at the school I serve, and in the beginning, I felt overwhelmed at the task of connecting with and making an impact on each child.
This moment was significant to me because it helped me realize that I can make a difference one day at a time, just by being continually positive and consistent in my interactions and intentions for this role.
Interested in becoming a Playworks AmeriCorps member?