Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Message to PPS Board and Administrators at public comment about Erik and Summer Dreamers too

My name is Mark Rauterkus

My family and I live at 108 South 12th Street, South Side.

I'm a proud parent, concerned citizen, scholastic coach and the lead activity provider with the BGC with Summer Dreamers Swim & Water Polo Camp.

Erik is going to make a great swimmer for Swarthmore. Of course he'll take care of his studies and figure out what to devote his life to along the way.

Erik was also a varsity golfer. He was in the top 10 in PA Junior cycling.

As governor, he delivered more than a dozen podium speeches to hundred-plus audiences. He gave 2 keynote speeches. One to the PA Lobbyist Assn and another to the state-wide YMCA professionals.

He attended three week-long conference: One for fellow youth governors and twice went to CONA, a Congress of North American Affairs. As he enters college he already has good friends and contacts from around the nation.

Erik was a fixtures on a great Ultimate Frisbee team that played in the regional semi-finals.

He and his mates went to Ohio twice for water polo. Last year our side had 8 wins and 1 loss there.

He was 7th in his graduating class.

For 4 years he went to the PIAA Swim Championshps. Last year our relays set new city records in the pool, going faster in 2 events than than anyone ever in the city.

But this is what I want to stress. For the past 3 years, Erik worked as a coach for PPS Summer Dreamers Swim & Water Polo Camp.

This summer, Erik, with 2 other recent PPS graduates, led Swim & Water Polo activities at Camp Carmalt. They bonded with the kids, taught butterfly, and backstroke. They played great water polo. Almost all passed their deep water test. The last day of Summer School, tears came with their Good Byes. They bonded with the kids. Eight of the Carmalt kids, ran in the Liberty Mile. Erik WON the Liberty Mile in 2012.

It was a busy, action packed summer for myself and the 25 others on the staff in five sites. We ran, exercised, swam, played water polo, raced and did an “A for Athlete” literacy project that we're sharing with the world on a wiki.

The staff, like Erik are mostly young adults, mostly varsity swimmers. They worked half a day and made some money. Plus, they made tremendous impacts on the lives of the PPS students. The students, mostly going into 4th grade, learned a life skill that they'll never forget and had a sports-camp experience.

I think it is imperative that PPS put at the top of its priority list a vision that screams: WE PLAY Well with Others.

That is what we need in our neighborhoods. The wellness has to spring to life in the afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends, holidays and summers.

Summer Dreams is 5 weeks. I also worry about the other 47. Summer Dreamers had 5 sites, 2 with PPS pools, and had more than 1,300 rejection letters.

Our capacity in terms of QUALITY interactions leaves something to be desired.

We had a lot of help: Shoe vendors, Pgh Marathon, PPS, sponsors, partners, Citiparks.

With a little more help from PPS and a philosophy that puts Erik and other kids much like him on our team – together – we are 10-times better, stronger and more robust.

The key to a thriving PPS comes with a serious change of heart to the overall after-school approach within PPS.

PPS has to be a place were we value, teach and learn how to play well with others. Playing well with others is a learned skill that must happen year-round and beyond the school day.

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

I was speaker #22 at the meeting. Erik, my son, was #21.

His words may or may not appear here soon.

We did get a video tape, but it was from a distance.