Each month we recognize an AmeriCorps member serving in Utah for going above and beyond the pledge they took to “Get Things Done.” This month we are proud to recognize Heather Yule who is serving with Playworks Utah AmeriCorps.
Playworks Utah AmeriCorps engages AmeriCorps members to serve in 75 low-income, at-risk elementary schools throughout Salt Lake County. These members create positive and inclusive school environments where every kid thrives both inside the classroom and out. Corps members teach social/ emotional skills, get kids active and promote play as an integral tool for improving student outcomes. By leveraging the power of play to empower students to become productive learners, Playworks Corps Members are deepening student connections to the learning experience.
Jacob Johnson, the AmeriCorps Program Manager at UServeUtah, presented Heather with the AmeriCorps Member of the Month award on December 18th during Playworks AmeriCorps’ holiday party. “AmeriCorps members have been serving since 1994 and thinking through the last 26 years, I think that this might be the most difficult year to be an AmeriCorps member. The challenges that you have faced serving during a pandemic are what I would probably expect to be insurmountable, and yet AmeriCorps members across the state have surmounted them and have done incredible work – virtually and in person…We are so incredibly grateful for all the AmeriCorps members who have stepped up, gotten involved, and made a difference in communities and addressing critical needs.”
Heather Yule came to Playworks as a part of a pilot part time program group, and is one of their most consistently reliable and incredible problem-solvers. She has been flexible in being one of the only coaches implementing a fully virtual program in Utah, and she not only collaborates well with her school staff, she’s also a vital, long-standing member of their community, cinching the record of being at one school site for the longest in all of Playworks Utah’s existence (this marks her fourth school year). Heather is also a vital member of the Playworks community nationally, having created high quality virtual content at the start of the pandemic and continuing collaborations as an AmeriCorps consultant for our national special projects team, and the AmeriCorps community, having completed her CERT in the 19-20 school year. Playworks Utah is thrilled to highlight Heather’s long-term and mission-driven dedication to her community, to service, and overall excellence as UServeUtah’s AmeriCorps member of the month.
“Heather has always been kind-of a ‘guinea pig’ as far as programs are concerned,” said Ashley Engeler, Plaworks Program Director. “She came in with a pilot program at Riley Elementary and she’s now in year four at the same service site. This year, when we were signing contracts with principals, her school wanted to make special note that Heather has really grown into their community and that they really value keeping her in that community…At the beginning of this year she was willing to step up and help out in some other areas where we needed programming help and just is always willing to do it. It has been an honor seeing her grow into her community this last four years and we’re thrilled to be able to highlight Heather.”
Principal Daniel Aragon at Riley Elementary echoed Ashley’s sentiments. “Coach Heather has been the Playworks Coach at our school for most of the past four years. She loves our students and families and goes out of her way to support them in any way she can. She is collaborative with our teachers and is calm in stressful situations. As a Playworks Coach, Heather is everything we could ask for and more!”
When asked what has kept her going during her four years of service as an AmeriCorps member Heather’s thoughts immediately went to her students. “What really keeps me going as a Playworks AmeriCorps Coach is the students. I have loved spending all 4 years at Riley Elementary. I have gotten to watch them learn and grow over the years. I’ve seen some of these kids go from not playing any games at recess because they were so shy to being the one who’s inviting others to join games. Working with Playworks, AmeriCorps, and my school has been such a rewarding experience and I’m so grateful I’ve had this opportunity.”
We extend our congratulations to Coach Heather for being recognized as the UServeUtah AmeriCorps Member of the Month and thank her for her dedicated service to Utah communities.
What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps is your moment to take the path less traveled, to break the status quo, to stop talking about the problem and be the solution. Join AmeriCorps and you can mentor and tutor kids, rebuild a community after disaster, help veterans, or work with local communities to alleviate poverty. There are thousands of opportunities to choose from, find the one that fits you.