John Dewey Academy recently launched a weekly recreation program led by Lisa Howard. Lisa began her career as a special education teacher and eventually transitioned from the traditional classroom setting to outdoor and experiential education. She has a master’s degree in adventure learning from Plymouth State University. Before joining Dewey as a residential counselor and yoga instructor, Lisa spent several years training teachers and outdoor professionals in the use of group-oriented activities to build stronger educational communities and teach social and emotional learning skills.
Below, Lisa reflects on her goals for the class.
My vision for the rec class is to create time and space to explore a wide variety of activities that encourage physical activity, playfulness, inclusivity and fun. I have invited and encourage students to be involved in the selection and facilitation of the activities, so that it keeps in line with the student-led philosophy of the school. While I have a deep background in facilitating cooperative and learning-based activities, the students have also been sharing their suggestions for favorite games and team sports. I expect that as our student needs and interests evolve throughout the summer, we will be doing a mix of fun and playful cooperative games, as well as some that are more competitive and skill-based, such as ultimate frisbee, soccer, and basketball.
My hope is that by holding this space on a weekly basis, students will look at play and physical activity with more interest and experience benefits in mind, body, and spirit. At all stages of development, we humans need to play and have fun, and within our rigorous programming at JDA, it is important to make time for this. While they spend a lot of time focusing on work ethic and meeting expectations, it is important to balance that out with time to get outside, breathe fresh air, laugh, and move the body. Further, through play and movement students get to experience different strengths in themselves and others. They learn more about themselves and their community and find new ways to bond and connect.