Jessica Kendall, a fifth grade math teacher at Nathanael Greene Elementary, got involved with Fit to Learn when she was student teaching in Chicago. She attended the summer session and “fell in love” with the program.
Kendall was one of the teachers that completed the Fit to Learn program this year, which we celebrated at a breakfast earlier this month. Fit to Learn is an innovative professional development program for Chicago educators. It provides practical methods for making health and wellness a regular part of the school experience while meeting academic standards in math, reading, science, social studies, art, music and more. Just as important, Fit to Learn is about developing lifelong skills.
Over the past six years, more than 300 teachers in 120 Chicago public schools have participated in the Fit to Learn program. Teachers learn simple strategies to incorporate health and wellness into lesson plans. Kendall has been able to create a safe space for her students to calm themselves through the use of three yoga poses that focus on breathing and circulation. “Those things were really easy to introduce at the beginning of the year, and now it’s just become a part of our classroom.”
We’re now recruiting for the next cohort of Fit to Learn teachers. Our introductory summer session is on Aug. 3 or 4 and will serve as a kickoff for the new school year.
Teachers who participate in Fit to Learn will be engaged throughout the entire school year. Each month, from September to April, we offer after-school booster sessions to share best practices and to help teachers implement Fit to Learn lessons into their classrooms. Booster sessions range from incorporating yoga in the classroom to learning how to start or enhance a school garden.
Congratulations to our 2016 Fit to Learn program graduates and participants:
Donna Calder*, James Wadsworth Elementary School
Maria Gonzalez, Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy
Dennis Harrigan, Douglas Taylor Elementary School
Tarita Jordan, James Wadsworth Elementary School
Jessica Kendall*, Nathanael Greene Elementary School
Kerry Martin*, Courtenay Language Arts Center
Lynette McNeal*, George Leland Elementary
Peter Morrison, Orozco Elementary School
Kristen Polotsky, Barry Elementary School
Alethea Poole, George Leland Elementary
Robert Reznar, Orozco Elementary School
Colleen Riordan*, George B. Swift Specialty School
Jacquelyn Smith, Willa Cather Elementary School
Tiffany Watkins, Oliver S. Westcott Elementary School
*Teachers who went above program expectations