Award-Winning Fitness Class Helps Students Develop Good Habits

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Donna Moore

Julia Randall’s gym teacher, Donna Moore, seeks to instill fitness habits in her students, even among those without athletic predispositions.

“Every child that comes in the class is able to succeed and be excited about something they did in class,” Moore said. “My whole goal for kids is take everything that I’m teaching and transfer it into their lives.”

In her award-winning class, Moore uses stability balls to help children develop balance, offers Dance Dance Revolution, a program which guides kids through dance steps on an electronic pad that tracks their movements, and gives kids resistance bands to build their muscles and work toward weightlifting.

“Everyone thinks of physical education as more of a recess-type setting and that’s not physical education,” Moore said. She teaches skills and helps her students develop character.

The model Moore uses for developing character is multi-level based, where each step represents a higher level of self-awareness and devotion to community.

True success, Moore says, is reaching the top — Level 4 —where a child cares about himself as well as others.

“The kids talk among themselves, that was a Level Zero,” Moore said. If two students run into each other, one will help the other up and ask if he’s okay. “It’s incredible,” she said, adding that children in every grade level seemingly buy-in.

When Moore worked in Safford, a boy from a rough background came into her office, and she complimented his haircut. He said, “That was a Level 4, Mrs. Moore.”

“That’s when the kids are getting it,” she said.

For all Moore’s work, the state schools Superintendent Tom Horne visited Julia Randall in November to award one of 10 Healthy Body/Healthy Mind awards statewide. (He even jumped rope in the gym.)

Moore has also won a grant from a heart rate monitor company to pay a professional grant writer to write a proposal for $1.5 million in federal funds specifically for physical education.

“It’s a grant that completely changes your program. The only people that are being funded are those people that are getting (that) professional edge.”

Although Payson is rural, Moore tells her students, “you will have the best physical education program in the state of Arizona, and I’ve always taught that way.”

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