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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More than 100 coaches get prepped and excited for upcoming season at Coach Kickoff

It was the largest Coach Kickoff ever.
Written by Cory Chimka
Program Director

Over 100 coaches, a dozen DC SCORES staff, two board members, staff from partners the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) and DC Reads, and a host of volunteers spent this past Saturday kicking off the fall 2013 DC SCORES soccer and poetry season.

It was, by far, the largest Kickoff training in the 19-year history of the organization.

“I am so happy to be part of this program!” Ms. Hicks beamed. For 20 years, she has kept her after-school time sacred. “That was always my time in my classroom (to plan & prepare) until this year," she said.

When Hicks heard DC SCORES would finally be coming to her school, Miner Elementary School in Ward 6, she broke her rule and signed up to be a writing coach alongside veteran Truesdell Education Campus and Macfarland Middle School soccer coach Renee Jackson.

Jackson was instrumental in bringing the program to Miner. She began lobbying DC SCORES when she transferred there. Two principals and four years later, Miner will be one of 42 schools beginning DC SCORES programming next Monday.

After a welcome by DC SCORES Executive Director Amy Nakamoto,10 coaches were recognized with special coach polo shirts for their service of greater than seven years with DC SCORES. All the coaches then participated in teambuilding games and planning exercises to ensure a swift and smooth beginning to the season. Then they split into four smaller groups according to which curricula, soccer or poetry, they will implement this fall.

In my group, after a run through of the curriculum, coaches dove into a sample lesson. This had several purposes. By taking on the role of students, teachers get to experience what a model lesson feels like on the receiving end. I was able to share and model some of my favorite teaching strategies, and coaches left with their own writer’s notebooks full of original poetry they’d created. They are now ready to share poetry with their students on the first day of DC SCORES.

Another exercise involved coaches racing to see who could use their bodies to create the letters of the alphabet quickest, before heading out into the neighborhood around Truesdell to “gather” words alphabetically and create alphabet string poems. A surprise guest arrived during the walk when DCPS Out of School Time Cluster Coordinator Niambi Smith recognized us, parked her car and hopped into the group without skipping a beat. Smith remained with the group, writing a poem and personalizing her writer’s notebook.

“When I see how a community based organization trains its teachers, I can really get a feel for how the program operates," Smith said. "After today, I can tell you this is a truly great program!”

Teachers lingered in the classroom long after the official end of the five-hour training on one of the most beautiful Saturdays of 2013, chatting, sharing plans and strategies, and continuing to cut out words like “power,” “voice” and “poetry” from magazines, gluing them to their writer’s notebooks. I eventually had to ask everyone to leave, so our gracious hosts at Truesdell, Mr. Robinson and Dr. Smith, could lock up.

I exhaled as I stuck my key into the ignition to depart. This is going to be our best season yet.


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