Fit to Learn Teachers Recognized as Champions of Wellness

June 13, 2012

In classrooms all over the city of Chicago, students are moving, playing, and learning about the importance of physical activity and nutrition with the help of teachers who have graduated from HSC’s Fit to Learn professional development program. Now prepared with classroom lessons and a comprehensive skill set, this group of teachers is already engaging their students in meaningful activities that complement classroom learning and promote health in schools. At Healthy Schools Campaign, we are celebrating over a dozen Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers who have now completed the Fit to Learn professional development program. The teachers gathered at nearby Wishbone restaurant last month to accept recognition for their achievements. Joined by program administrators, instructors, and school principals, the graduates celebrated their accomplishments and reflected on the strategies they have used to empower students and staff to live healthy lifestyles.

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Fit to Learn graduates pose for a picture with HSC, CPS and Mindful Practices representatives

Through Fit to Learn, CPS teachers from grades K-5 gained practical approaches for integrating health and wellness into classroom curriculum. They participated in one-day training session and additional evening booster sessions. During these sessions they became familiar with the body of knowledge documenting the link between health and academic achievement, and learned how to incorporate wellness into subjects ranging from social studies to physical education. They reviewed existing curricula, participated in games and activities, and adapted the information to create lesson plans tailored to their own classroom needs.

During the graduation celebration, teachers expressed gratitude for the program and hope for creating last change in their school environments. Physical Education Teacher Mark Franklin of Charles W. Earle Elementary School described the Fit to Learn program as filling an important gap in existing professional development opportunities for Chicago area educators. While trained in subjects such as physiology and Kinesiology, he had never been exposed to the benefits of incorporating yoga in the school setting. However, after Carla Tantillo, founder of Mindful Practices and a Fit to Learn facilitator, presented on using relaxation techniques to modify energy levels, Mark tried out some activities in his PE classes. He found that while students needed a little initial encouragement, they enjoyed trying out new things and were engaged in the activities.

Fit to Learn graduates agreed that the program has helped them promote wellness in the classroom. Mary Holmes of Oscar DePriest Elementary School commented that it is something all teachers can do to help empower students. When breakfast arrives in Mary’s classroom, she eats with the children and leads by example. She sees this simple act of participation as effective strategy to teach healthy behaviors. For more great ideas and stories from leaders like Mary, visit the Fit to Learn section of the HSC blog.

We look forward to hearing more about the Fit to Learn graduates' accomplishments in the coming school year. Again, congratulations to all Fit to Learn graduates! We are now accepting applicants for the 2012-2013 Fit to Learn program! For more information and to register, click here.

To learn more about Fit to Learn or if you have questions regarding registration, please contact Kristi Cox by email or at 312-419-1810.