This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and for Urban Initiatives, this means a big thank you to all of our teachers who serve as On-Site Program Directors (OSPD), Assistant Coaches, and those that fill out our Work To Play forms every week. We could not have such a successful program without them!
We want to spotlight one of our great teachers, Claremont Academy’s OSPD and 4th grade teacher, Jonathan Meeks. Recently returned from a season off to care for a new addition to his family, Mr. Meeks is back in action.
“My mom was a second grade teacher, so I grew up with that model,” Mr. Meeks says of his decision to become a teacher. “I love to be part of those ‘Aha’ moments.” Whether it is through science experiments, Urban Initiatives field trips, or any moment that changes perspective, Mr. Meeks loves helping kids discover new things about themselves and the world.
Mr. Meeks exemplifies OSPD excellence, turning games into lessons, and connecting our program to the life goals of his players. From food lessons on organic apples to new ideas for Junk Food Tag, Mr. Meeks is always looking for strong connections between soccer and healthy living.
Mr. Meeks lives just around the corner from Claremont Academy to make sure that he is participating in the same community as his students and living with the circumstances that shape their lives. The West Englewood neighborhood that Mr. Meeks and Claremont together call home suffers from crime and poverty, but that doesn’t stop either of them for aiming for success with the Work To Play Program.
“I grew up in a small town, so the concept of living in a different place than I worked was very foreign,” Mr. Meeks said. “If there’s a community school, then the teachers need to be part of the community.”
Mr. Meeks sees his work with Urban Initiatives as continuing that educational and community engagement mission. He says of the connection of healthy eating and character development to soccer, “It’s one thing to say it, but we really do it.”