There is nothing fancy about the schoolyard at P.S. 309 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It’s just a few hundred square feet of bare asphalt bounded by a chain link fence, with a couple of basketball hoops and some lines painted on the ground.
A young woman named Tashawnee Guarriello is busy getting the yard ready for recess, which is going to start any moment. She draws a chalk circle in one area, puts some hula hoops down in another, sets up a few plastic cones and gets out several balls. This simple assortment of equipment — along with a loud whistle, her voice, and a staggering amount of energy and good cheer — are all that she will use to lead hundreds of elementary school students in play over the next two hours.
Guarriello, who is known to the kids of P.S. 309 as Coach G, is one of hundreds of coaches working in schools around the country as part of Playworks.