The adrenaline and excitement after winning a Bronze National Recognition Award was infectious and any skeptical staff we had before were quickly turned around. To keep the momentum going, I was determined to continue in a forward direction and go for the Silver National Recognition Award. To do this, we focused on physical activity in the classroom.

Along with being motivated to reach our new goal of increasing classroom physical activity, we received an unexpected visit from one of our heroes in childhood health, First Lady Michelle Obama! Meeting the First Lady fueled us even more to reach our goals.

Active Classrooms

Classroom physical activity was an area where teachers were apprehensive. They had the misconception that stopping and getting kids moving would get them too excited and they would never be able to get them to focus and settle. As we tested it, we learned that was not the case.

To increase activity, we had to make it easy. I began sending emails with links to quick PA break videos and other tools they could use that would be super easy and quick. I went to classrooms during teacher planning time and helped them get the links on their desktop for easy access.

I presented physical activity break ideas at staff meetings and had the entire staff try them. I created PA break card sets that I gave away to interested teachers. Slowly but surely more and more teachers started to use the PA breaks and I began to hear very positive feedback. 

Physical Activity Resources

Meeting the First Lady

In June 2011, John M. Sexton Elementary School was honored with the Alliance’s Silver National Recognition Award and just like after winning Bronze, I returned to school with new information and renewed inspiration. Just months after receiving our Silver National Recognition Award, my principal received a very strange phone call from someone claiming to be from The White House.

After confirming they were indeed a legitimate representative of President Obama, we discovered that the First Lady would be visiting the Tampa area and she wanted to meet some students and staff from our school because we were identified as being a healthy school. Within the week we were inundated with media, and students and staff were doing one interview after another.

The day came that we got to meet First Lady Michelle Obama at Tampa airport. We had a brief meeting on the tarmac with 10 excited students, me and Principal Davey. We gave her a gift, a DVD of our students doing the “Let’s Move” dance by Beyonce.

It was an experience I will never forget! Our little school in St. Petersburg was being recognized by national media and on billboards around the city. All because we were making healthy changes!

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