Helping Kids Succeed: Mr. Massis
Skip to Content
United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Man beside together we fly

Helping Kids Succeed: Mr. Massis

Main Content

image ofgroup of children with a play overlay button

Through the Helping Kids Succeed initiative, United Way connects schools in Waukesha County with resources to improve outcomes for students.

Recess may seem like a simple time for students to let out energy and play together, but conflict at recess can translate into problems in the classroom.

“While some kids have friends to play with, others don’t participate or have conflict,” said Mr. Massis, a second-grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Waukesha. 

“As teachers, we take time to solve the problem, to talk to students in conflict, leaving us less time for instruction,” said Mr. Massis. 

Enter Playworks, a local program that helps kids to stay active and build valuable social and emotional skills through the power of play. United Way funding supports Playworks at several elementary schools in Waukesha through the Helping Kids Succeed initiative.

At recess, Playworks staff lead students in games like soccer, kickball, and four square. Students get their choice of what games they want to play. 

“We teach kids to use lots of ‘lightning lingo,’ or positive language and high fives to make it safe and fun for everyone,” said Dana Peters, a Playworks Recess Coach at Hawthorne. 

Fourth and fifth grade students even get the chance to become Junior Coaches and are trained in leadership skills, conflict resolution, and teamwork that help them guide younger students at recess. 

With the support of Playworks, teachers like Mr. Massis have noticed a big difference in the classroom. 

“We’ve seen the behavior change in the way they interact with other students,” said Mr. Massis.  “Now they use nice words like ‘hey good job, well done’ as opposed to seeing everything like a competition. It’s more like working together as a community.”

Your donation to United Way’s Helping Kids Succeed initiative helps ensure students in Waukesha have the support they need.