Playworks Michigan presented Principal Amy Modica with the group’s 2019 Most Valuable Educator Award on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Modica received the honor for her steadfast commitment to Playworks during her tenure at McDonald Elementary School in Dearborn.   McDonald Elementary began implementing Playworks in 2016.  This school year Modica changed positions to become principal at Cotter School/GSRP.

“Your incredible commitment to nurturing responsible, productive and well-rounded students with strong social, emotional and academic skills makes you the perfect role model and recipient,” wrote Playworks Michigan Executive Director Angela Rogensues as she told Modica about the award.  At the ceremony, the group also thanked Modica for helping spread Playworks across several elementary schools in Dearborn Public Schools.

Playworks is a national nonprofit that promotes safe, healthy and inclusive play at recess and throughout the day to support learning, increase physical activity, reduce bullying and disciplinary issues, and build social/emotional skills.  Sixty three Michigan elementary schools participate in the program, including nine in Dearborn.

As part of the program, a Playworks coach visits a school on select days each month to teach students inclusive games and how to resolve conflicts.  The coach also trains older students who serve as junior coaches to help younger students on the playground.

Ms. Modica said when she went to her first Playworks training, McDonald was a school that “struggled daily with meeting the social/emotional needs of our students.”

However, the Playworks program changed that.

“Playworks has allowed our school community to ensure that everyone has the chance to play every day, that students have a choice on what and where they play at recess.  Adults have become part of the play and encourage students through positive play. It has given our students the ability to resolve problems in a positive manner and also to insure that games are inclusive for all students at all levels,” Ms. Modica said as she received the award. 

“Playworks provides students with the tools they will use through their life in reaching their goals,” she added.

In a survey of McDonald staff, they felt that with Playworks students are more physically active at recess, have more opportunities to be included, and are better able to resolve their own conflicts.  In the classroom, the program has led to more cooperation between students, better classroom participation, and better focus.

The Most Valuable Educator Award was presented during Playwork’s 8th Annual Get in the Game event held at The Beacon in Detroit.  The unique Playworks fundraiser combined recess games with more traditional dinner, speakers, awards, and silent auction.