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The School That Plays Together

By Tracy Ramberg
The School That Plays Together

Our team was facing a sleepless night in cramped vans, running 1-kilometer legs every 40 minutes, and nibbling on bits of food whenever our bodies allowed. We had less than 24 hours to run the 242 kilometers from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. Nonetheless, as we headed to the starting line, the thought in everyone’s mind was, “This is going to be fun!”
Healthy Balance is one of our four priority goals at the American Community School (ACS) in Amman, Jordan. Over the years, ACS has not only worked to expand health and fitness opportunities for students, but has also taken on “play together” initiatives for the staff. In addition to our annual “500 Mile” summer fitness challenge, afternoons are filled with staff fitness groups, with offerings such as yoga and Ultimate Frisbee.
In March 2016, ACS Amman took the idea of “playing together” to a new level. For the first time, our school put together a teacher team for the Dead2Red relay race. Although the team was comprised of teachers who had competed in challenging races and collegiate sports, Dead2Red was nonetheless mentally and physically taxing for all. Despite these challenges, our team was consistently positive and supportive of one another. Even when hungry, sleep-deprived, and pushed physically beyond our limits, we never lost our sense of humor.
In facing this challenge, I learned to respect the power of play in community building. Prior to the race, we had to determine leg lengths, strategy, and logistics. During the race, we had to collaborate on ever-changing details, such as who was driving, who was sleeping, and where to go to the bathroom in a stretch of bleak desert where the military presence was palpable.
In order to make these decisions, we had to consider both our individual and team strengths and weaknesses. Despite our exhaustion, despite being pushed beyond our comfort zones, we successfully worked together to achieve a common goal. This experience taught me that the ACS Amman philosophy of fitness and play is a community school cornerstone. This sense of community and collaboration extends beyond fitness challenges and into our school culture, as professional collaboration is a natural practice at our school.
ACS Amman is continuing to develop our healthy balance priority in many ways, one of which is the construction of a new fitness center and swimming pool. Through these new initiatives, the ACS Amman community will have more opportunities to strengthen our sense of team by playing together.
Tracy Ramberg is Middle School Social Studies and Literature at the American Community School in Amman, Jordan.

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