Recess Rocks in RI helps educators across the state pilot new approaches to incorporating safe and healthy play in their school day.

RRIRI would like to recognize and celebrate educators and other school staff who prioritize play and social-emotional learning by creating and sustaining recess systems that help students stay active and connected.

SCHOOL YEAR 2023-2024

Veterans Memorial Elementary, Central Falls

Nominated by Principal Jeff Croteau:
Mr. Bermudez works in a diverse community that suffers from poverty. Without asking or thinking twice he thought outside the box on games you could successfully and safely play on the concrete playground. He went out and purchased ring toss, cornhole, tick-tac-toe. He did this for his students w/o thought of finances to himself. He is an unwavering advocate for the students at Vets in his role as lunch/recess aide and as a crossing guard. ​

TARA BADWAY, Teaching Assistant
Lawn Avenue School, Jamestown

Nominated by Principal Nate Edmunds:
Tara makes sure students have equipment and supports students each recess. She works directly with students to help them have a fun and engaging recess by making suggestions to them, making sure they have what they need to play, offering different locations to allow what students need to play (example – moving to a larger field for kids that want to play ultimate Frisbee). Tara includes everyone and helps to bring students together so all are involved.

JENNA BOUCHARD, Assistant Principal
​John F. Horgan Elementary, West Warwick

HEATHER ANNICELLI, Supervising Assistant
John F. Horgan Elementary, West Warwick

​Nominated by Principal Gina Adams and Grade 2 Teacher Amanda Keenan:
Jenna has been the most integral part of bringing the Recess Rocks core values to all grade levels in our school, with our supervising assistant Heather Annicelli working alongside Jenna for every recess initiative . Jenna sends weekly emails to all staff informing them of the games of the week, explaining the rules, providing resources, and making sure all kids and staff members are engaged. They have put systems in place to help recess run smoothly and been flexible when adjusting as needs from different grade levels arise. There has been such a shift in the recess culture at our school this year and it’s all thanks to Jenna and Healther’s consistency and perseverance. 

SCHOOL YEAR 2022-2023

ALBERTO CARDONA, Behavior Specialist
Segue Institute for Learning, Central Falls

Nominated by Principal Melissa Lourenco:
Mr. Cardona has been a huge part of our recess success this year! As a behavior specialist he recognizes the importance of play and movement in child development. He is the driving force behind our Jr. Coaches program this year. He has recruited and supported a dedicated group of 7th and 8th graders who have been amazing in their new roles! Due to his training, our Jr Coaches also recognize the importance of movement and play and how that affects academic success. Mr. Cardona is amazing! We are very fortunate to have him on our team!

BONNIE DONAHUE, Building/Recess Aide
Norwood Elementary, Warwick

Nominated by Principal Sabrina Antonelli:
Bonnie has fully adopted the Recess Rocks program at Norwood School. She has utilized the Playworks U portal for training as well as the weekly Keep Playing newsletter. She started a google drive with resources. She has taken the lead with the Junior Coach program at Norwood. She has put together a schedule for our 17 junior coaches. She holds weekly meetings on Monday to prepare the coaches for the week. She has taught and continuously reinforces the Recess Rocks Core values. She runs a game of the week station at recess and works towards having all students involved in safe and healthy play.

THERESIA JOY, Paraprofessional and Team Leader
Fort Barton Elementary, Tiverton

KELLY SANNA, Paraprofessional and Team Leader
Fort Barton Elementary, Tiverton

Nominated by Principal Amy Donnelly-Roche:

Our nominees have used what they learned from Recess Rocks RI and Playworks to create an engaging recess experience in which children have both voice and choice. Fort Barton recess is set up into zones. Children know what is expected, and may choose among 4-6 zones per day. Ms. Joy and Ms. Sanna create stations that invite our students to play creatively such as fairy gardens, construction zones, and outdoor kitchens, as well as physically
through athletics as well as both cooperative and pretend play. They have set recess expectations that are respectful and inclusive, and facilitate model behavior and mediate positive interactions among children to ensure every child gets to play at recess.

They are a true team, who prioritize a positive recess environment at Fort Barton School!

SCHOOL YEAR 2021-2022

DIANA COMTOIS, School Counselor
​North Smithfield Elementary, North Smithfield

Nominated by assistant principal Rachel Salvatore:
​Diana is an integral member of the Recess Rocks team here at NSES. ​She is committed to ensuring that all students have access to a safe, meaningful recess and all students are included. Since the onset of Covid, she has introduced numerous games and activities from the Playworks curriculum to our students, as well as modeled for our teachers.

​As Youth Leadership  Coordinator for NSES, Mrs. C, as our students call her, has made such a positive impact on recess at NSES. She has trained several of our fourth grade students in hopes of building their leadership skills. As our School Counselor, Diana recognizes the importance of students being social, especially in these uncertain times. She is committed to our students feeling connected and engaged, which is more important now than ever. 

DOREEN REILLY, Teacher Assistant
Richmond Elementary, Chariho

Nominated by principal Sharon Martin:
​​Doreen has been a leader in our school’s implementation of the
Recess Rocks initiative.  She develops the weekly calendar for our school, updates the game of the week on a laminated chart, takes ​the initiative to write the expectations for Recess on the wall for students to see as they go out, she inventories our recess shed, has assisted with Recess Rocks PD with other teacher assistants, laminated all of the recess rocks games for the other teacher assistants, participated in the Recess Assessment and made recommendations to the other TAs for improvements to our recess practices. 

We are a Responsive Classroom School and she teaches Richmond CARES (cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control) through play.

KEN ANDERSON, Physical Education Teacher
​Mary E. Fogarty Elementary, Providence

JON PASSARELLI, Physical Education Teacher
​Mary E. Fogarty Elementary, Providence

​Nominated by Principal Courtney Monterecy:
Jon & Ken have taken ownership of our Playworks program at Fogarty. In November, they held a professional development session for all staff to refresh veteran staff and introduce new staff to these aspects of Recess Rocks in RI: recess expectations, Playworks games, fair gameplay, solving disagreements (rock, paper, scissors, etc), and introducing new games.  This was particularly needed after 2 years of Covid with distance learning, less recess time, and lack of staying current during those times.

Jon & Ken keep staff in the loop by choosing games of the month, inventorying our recess equipment and making sure we purchase new items (jump ropes, hula hoops) when appropriate. Jon & Ken support all students by teaching new Playworks games during PE class, creating ways to modify games and activities to support students at all levels of game mastery, and participating in Playworks recess whenever possible.  Jon & Ken embody leaders who do whatever it takes when promoting healthy minds and healthy bodies at Fogarty.  

SCHOOL YEAR 2020-2021

​Wakefield School, South Kingstown

CRAIG GIARUSSO, Physical Education Teacher
Nathanael Greene Elementary, Pawtucket