Instructors at SCC are sick of reading about unhealthy kids and rising childhood obesity levels. So this semester, the college developed a new way to fight the problem: Train future teachers to be healthy role models for students.
“If the teacher’s active, the students see that; that it’s important to the teachers to take care of themselves physically,” said Paul Langworthy, fitness and wellness manager for the college.
The 18 students in SCC’s postbaccalaureate teacher program this year were the fi rst group in the program’s five-year history to go through the physical training, said Bobbie Sferra, program director for teacher certification at the college. The fi nal day of the class was Tuesday, and the college hopes to offer it again.
“The feedback from the students has been very positive,” she said.
The one-credit class was free for participants, thanks to scholarships from the president’s offi ce, she said. Students met about once a week on campus to try out some types of exercises, like yoga and cycling, and learn about others, like strength and cardiovascular training, Langworthy said.
By exposing the future teachers to different types of exercises, they will, hopefully, find some sort of exercise they like and stick with it, he added. When the teachers’ classes see that exercise is important to the teacher, they might be prompted to exercise, too.
“Not everybody has to belong to a gym to have good health. If they belong to a gym, that’s great. But it could be walking, jogging, whatever gets them excited,” Langworthy said.
Students also were required to work out in SCC’s health center, at a gym or with a physical therapist at least two hours a week. Participants were assessed three times over the course of the semester to see where they had improved, Langworthy said.
And by making students work out, they’ll, hopefully, stay healthier and less stressed during the program, Sferra added.
Students spend 20 hours a week working in elementary and middle school classrooms, and 8 1/2 hours a week on top of that in college classes, Sferra said. They earn 46 credits by the end of the 10-month program.
Students said they’ve appreciated the mandatory workouts. Shimako Shimizu, 41, said she used to walk regularly, but the class was the only way she was able to keep up with exercise since she started classes in August.
“With this program, I don’t have time to do anything else. I have a family, I have kids,” Shimizu said.
Susan Staley, 49, said she lost 5 pounds since the start of the semester — an accomplishment, considering how stressed she’s been.
“When I’m stressed, I’m eating,” Staley said. “But with the exercise I’ve been doing, I didn’t gain the 15 pounds I would have.”
And while these future teachers probably won’t teach gym classes, Shimizu said she could see where her future students could benefit from her staying fit.
“If you’re out of shape in the classroom, I don’t think you’re going to take your kids outside to do kickball or whatever,” Shimizu said.