The Extra Mile – Andrea Lipper & Vicki Ward, Lackamas Elementary
Andrea Lipper and Vicki Ward have a lot in common. They love teaching, physical activity and, perhaps more than anything, integrating them together.
“I grew up loving to play many sports”, Andrea said. “Playing sports is rewarding in so many ways and has always been a means of social interaction and friendship building. My dad, who taught me many sports skills, encouraged me to become a PE teacher. I love working with kids because of the shared enthusiasm for what we are doing and how we challenge each other to build on skills and develop new strengths.”
Andrea teaches PE at Lackamas Elementary School in Yelm, WA and is inspiring the next generation to be physically active, but she isn’t doing it alone.
“I taught first through third grade for 42 years before I retired”, Vicki said. “A few years later, this great opportunity to teach PE with Andrea one day a week appeared and I couldn’t pass up working with kids again. I enjoy many outdoor activities and have always believed sports is a way for children to blossom. It is so important for children to be fit, set goals, work to achieve them to the best of their ability and learn to encourage others.”
Andrea and Vicki’s passion is helping their students understand the importance of being physically active from an early age, but their motivation is also fueled by the proven health benefits children reap from daily physical activity. When the COVID-19 pandemic began sending students home in March 2020, Andrea and Vicki were determined to find a way to keep their students moving. That’s why, in partnership with Lackamas Elementary Principal Shauna Perez, they began implementing The Daily Mile, a program encouraging students and their teachers to walk, jog or run for 15 minutes every day during the school day, in September 2020.
“As a school system we focus on the importance of daily minutes for skills like reading and we feel physical activity should be encouraged the same way,” Vicki said. When The Sports Institute reached out about The Daily Mile, and we researched the importance of physical activity for students’ neurological development and how it could enhance academic performance, we jumped at the opportunity to put research into action.”
The Daily Mile is designed to be an in-person, at-school program, so Andrea and Vicki adapted the initiative to implement it virtually, inspired by resources from The Sports Institute and The Daily Mile USA. They’re incorporating The Daily Mile into the PE lessons about cardio-respiratory endurance, one of the 5 components of fitness, and created a Lackamas Elementary “Daily Mile Tracking Sheet” for their students to turn in as assignments. It has since continued to be weekly homework to maintain and encourage the continuous routine of documenting daily physical activity. Andrea and Vicki’s implementation of The Daily Mile showcases Lackamas’ dedication to providing opportunities for students to be physically active, but it doesn’t stop with the program, or Andrea and Vicki.
Shauna has also been a huge proponent of increasing physical activity opportunities at Lackamas by securing funding and coordinating with Andrea and Vicki to provide every student a jump rope. Every student received a jump rope in supply bags delivered to students’ homes in November. Andrea and Vicki later added jumping rope to the Daily Mile Tracking Sheet, providing their students an additional choice of activity they are doing to stay physically active. Andrea and Vicki have also inspired general education teachers at Lackamas to implement The Daily Mile, which is intended to be in addition to allotted PE time. Andrea and Vicki’s efforts have made Lackamas a school that champions physical activity for students and its benefits.
“WE LOVE The Daily Mile. Both our students and staff have embraced it as one of our celebrations of 2020,” said Shauna.
We can’t change much of what makes learning at home difficult, but we can put one proven idea to work — schedule time for children to move every day. That’s exactly what Andrea and Vicki did while students were home so they wouldn’t miss a beat while learning remotely. As of February 2021, Lackamas students and teachers are back in the classroom and Andrea and Vicki’s approach has paid off. Students are excited about being physically active, and that healthy relationship with movement is what Andrea and Vicki know will help students in the long run, no matter if they’re learning in-person or from home.
“My objective is to promote the love of physical activity by discovering what our bodies are capable of when we keep practicing” Andrea said. “By not giving up and by finding joy in physical activities, children learn practical lessons helpful in other settings. During remote learning, many students are exercising with their parents and families. Family time together that includes physical activities, such as the Daily Mile, serves as a feedback loop of encouraging these family members to continue a lifelong engagement with physical activity.”
Learn more about The Daily Mile and how it can help your students succeed!
About Lackamas Elementary School
Students are challenged to learn, lead, and succeed at Lackamas Elementary School. We are a No Excuses University school located in Yelm, WA, Lackamas Elementary School has been recognized as a two-time Washington State School of Distinction and recipient of the Washington Achievement Award. We are part of the Yelm Community Schools. Their mission is to instill academic excellence within our students, empowering them to become life-long learners.