Congratulations to the Fit to Learn Class of 2013!

April 23, 2013 | Written By:

Congratulations to our 2013 Fit to Learn program graduates and participants!

When LaSandra Glass-Gibson first asked her second-grade students if they wanted to try yoga, they weren’t sure what it was. Many of the students, she said, heard the word as “yogurt,” and when it came time for the lesson, they were wondering where the yogurt was! Now, Glass-Gibson’s students have learned to love yoga, and she’s used the opportunity to teach them lessons and improve their flexibility through this activity.

Glass-Gibson, the Health and Fitness Instructor at Francis M. McKay Elementary School, first became involved in the Fit to Learn program because this past school year was her first teaching P.E.

“I’ve learned patience, diversity and the willingness to be more open instead of ‘old-school’ P.E.,” Glass-Gibson says of the program. “I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be all regimented.”

Glass-Gibson is one of 16 teachers from all over the city of Chicago to have participated in or graduated from Fit to Learn, Healthy Schools Campaign’s free wellness-focused professional development program for teachers and principals, during the 2012-2013 school year. Throughout the year, these teachers attended workshops and booster sessions and implemented Fit to Learn activities and ideas in their classrooms, and saw some great improvements.

Last week, we came together with our amazing teachers for our annual Fit to Learn graduation. Over a delicious breakfast at Wishbone (whose chef, Joel Nickson, was a fantastic Cooking up Change mentor), Fit to Learn participants looked back on the past year, celebrated their accomplishments and learned about future opportunities. We applaud the work of these amazing educators and their commitment to healthy schools.

Teachers had the opportunity to learn about next steps they can take to continue promoting health and wellness at their schools. Annie Lionberger from Chicago Public Schools introduced the teachers to upcoming CPS initiatives and opportunities, including Learn Well, an initiative to assist schools in implementing district wellness policies, and the very exciting 30/20/10, a pilot program where schools will offer students 30 minutes of P.E., 20 minutes of recess and 10 minutes of in-class physical activity every day. This is a huge progression, as Chicago students typically have 30 minutes per week of P.E.

In some cases, the next steps are more on a school-wide or local level. LaSandra Glass-Gibson expressed a desire to get more teachers at McKay involved in the program and doing movement work in their own classrooms. And teachers will leave Fit to Learn not just with print and digital resources to revisit as needed, but a whole new group of teachers, from all over the city, with whom they can share ideas about creating healthier schools.

“You should participate in Fit to Learn because the benefits are crazy great,” writes Liz Busch, a teacher at Hamilton Elementary. “The boosters are very helpful and the resources provided by the staff are beneficial for staff and students alike.”

Lori Klein-Blazek, the (award-winning!) P.E. teacher at Jungman Elementary whose great work has been featured on this blog before, says she found having a helpful, collaborative network of teachers to be one of the best parts of Fit to Learn. She met Cecilia Ludvik, P.E. teacher at Dawes Elementary, through the program, and not only do the two regularly share ideas about health and education, but they have become good friends, even going to Chicago Wolves hockey games together!

“Now I know John [Neal, P.E. teacher Walsh Elementary], who’s my neighbor,” Klein-Blazek says. “We’re four blocks away from each other. We’re going to get our kids together and go play. That’s a really good thing, too. You get to network about everything and talk to people who are interested and aware.”

Congratulations to our 2013 Fit to Learn program graduates and participants:

  • Liz Busch, Hamilton Elementary School

  • Karla Caunca, Passages Charter School

  • LaSandra Glass-Gibson, Francis M. McKay Elementary

  • Christian Hoeffel, Passages Charter School

  • Lori Klein-Blazek, Jungman Elementary School

  • Cecilia Ludvik, Dawes Elementary School

  • Colleen Mann, Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline

  • Dawn Marchese, Dawes Elementary School

  • Jose Martinez, Ruiz Elementary School

  • Megan McDermott, Spencer Technology Academy

  • Nichole Moos, Hamilton Elementary School

  • John Neal, Walsh Elementary School

  • Maria Ovalle, Gary Elementary School

  • Jason Sabo, Stevenson Elementary School

  • Lisa Sullivan, Paul Cuffe Math-Science Technology Academy

  • Danuta Wisniewska, Stevenson Elementary School

Would you like to be a part of this amazing community of educators, school nurses and principals from all across Chicago? Join us this summer! Register for summer sessions here or for more information, email HSC Training and Program Manager Kristi Cox ( or Campaign Manager Rosa Ramirez (

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