Last spring there was a lot of excitement at Cabrillo Unified School District (CUSD) elementary schools when Playworks, a national nonprofit that reduces playground bullying and conflicts and improves school morale through games and physical activity, was looking to establish their program at each K-5 schoolyard in the District.
But recently Playworks announced to CUSD and the Cabrillo Education Foundation (CEF), which planned to put up $65,000 of grant money with $10,000 from each schools’ parent-teacher organizations, that they don't have the resources to implement the program here.
“Playworks currently serves 24 schools in San Francisco and Marin. With a 100 percent retention rate and a standing waiting list, we unfortunately do not have the capacity to expand further south this year,” said Playworks executive director Ellen Goodman in San Francisco.
CEF board members say they understand the decision, but are still “disappointed because of the support we got from all the schools to put this amazing program in place,” said CEF president Michele Hannegan. “Playworks is a nonprofit, and they depend on donations as CEF does, and they ended up not having the staff to accommodate our schools. We were always on the wait list with the hopes we could get the program, and it simply did not work out.”
Corrine Bucher, Hatch Elementary PTO president and parent, says CEF worked hard and long with Playworks to bring full-time programs to all the CUSD elementary schools.
"We were disappointed that Playworks was not able to deliver enough coaches to fill the need," she said.
Bucher initially spearheaded the effort to roll out Playworks as a pilot program at Hatch last year. She says that Hatch students are still benefiting from the pilot program.
“Our playground volunteers have said that the students are playing many of the games from last year and are anxious to learn new ones,” she said.
“We just hosted a day-long Playworks Training last Saturday,” said Bucher. “I talked to a teacher on the following Monday who stated that she had learned some techniques that she was excited to use in the classroom that day.”
Playworks trainers work on location with adults in low income schools and youth organizations. Through customized, high-energy workshops, and with coaching and support, teachers and other professionals learn how to use games, play strategies and group management techniques to teach kids how to play well together, share, resolve conflicts and develop leadership skills.
“It is our intention to bring our direct service program to Half Moon Bay in the 2013-14 school year as we begin our expansion into the 280 corridor. And of course we continue to offer Playworks Training to any school and district anywhere, regardless of our expansion plans,” said Goodman.
With Playworks off the table and additional funds to allocate next year, CEF has redirected their focus.
“If Playworks continues to be at the top of the list, then we will pursue it when appropriate, however, this year, our focus will be on science, literacy and teachers,” said Hannegan.
The allocation committee will continue to get input from the community, work with CUSD, and focus on what will make the biggest difference for the most kids, according to Hannegan.
“The list of possibilities CEF gathered from the community, teachers and stakeholders has been very successful,” said Hannegan.
This year the local foundation was able to achieve their goal of reaching as many students as possible with their allocation of $90,000, from science at the elementary schools and an animation elective at the high school to technology pilots and academic field trips.
“These fit into multiple of the seven themes that we will be addressing over time: teachers, reinforcing academics, science, technology, enrichment, whole child, and paths to the future,” said Hannegan.
CEF is now beginning their allocation process for next year, starting with meetings with school staff, district and community.
Tonight is the first community meeting at the Cunha Library at 6:30 p.m.
“We are passionate about the difference we can make with our students," said Hannegan, "if we can develop our science program from kinder thru high school, if we can help more kids to read, and if we can support our teachers because great teachers are the cornerstone of a child's education."
IF YOU GO
Brainstorming session on specific projects or programs in literacy, science and teacher development that could be funded via additional allocations in 2013/2014 is tonight, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Cunha Intermediate School, 600 Church St., Half Moon Bay. If you cannot attend but have input, please fill out the on-line survey at www.ceffund.org/.
IF YOU DONATE
CEF is doing a matching campaign right now, which means every donation is matched dollar for dollar. If interested in giving to CEF, go to CEFfund.org or send a check to Cabrillo Education Foundation, P.O. Box 354, HMB, CA 94019