Started by The American Heart Association in 2007, National Walking Day is recognized annually the first Wednesday in April. On this day, Americans are encouraged to be more active and to experience firsthand the benefits of walking, something our Walking Classroom adopters and students already do regularly! Here at TWC, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the day than to take a walk with a class … or three, as you’ll soon see!
The day began with Laura Fenn (yes, that’s right, Mrs. Fenn!), The Walking Classroom’s creator, Executive Director, and voice on all those podcasts, hitting the road for Halifax County, North Carolina. She headed to Hollister Elementary, a Pre-K to fifth grade school with just under 250 students, located in (you guessed it!) Hollister.
There, she took a morning walk with fourth grade teachers, Christine Bunn and Melissa Garvey, and fifth grade teacher, Sanchia Palmer-Dewar, and their students. By all accounts, they had a great time!
Making the Trek to Tarboro
Not much later, Program Facilitator, Kathy Medlock, and I made our way to Martin Millenium Academy, in Edgecombe County, for a midday walk of our own. Known as Martin Middle School until 2014, Martin Millenium Academy is now a Global Gateway School and serves 700 students in grades K to 8.
The school has an international focus. This was readily apparent to us upon our arrival and even more as we were shown around by two friendly student tour guides! A large map mural links teachers to their country of origin, and flags of different countries are an integral part of the hallway and classroom decorations. Brightly colored bulletin boards reflect school activities, class achievements, and individual accomplishments. There is also an expansive wall display honoring family and community members who have served in the armed forces.
Our tour brought us to the fifth grade hall, where we would be walking with not just one class, but three … and simultaneously! The fifth grade teachers, Rachael Ashforth, Trisha Bailey, and Lindsay Palmer, had it down, masterfully maneuvering some 70 students around the surrounding neighborhood in the midday sunshine as we listened to Marine Life (5-#76).
… and Fun with the Follow-Up
Following the walk, we had some time for classroom visits. First, we checked in with Ms. Bailey’s class, and got the scoop on their favorite podcasts. And, as this crew typically walks three times a week, they’ve listened to quite a few!
Among these fans of history and humor, favorite Program 5 podcasts included the following:
• “O Captain! My Captain!” (5-#61)
• Idioms (5-#3)
• “The Echoing Green” (5-#10)
• “Casey at the Bat” (5-#5)
• The Dust Bowl (5-#88)
• “Star Spangled Banner” (5-#64)
We also talked a bit about their thank you notes, which I’d recently enjoyed reading! Then we managed a group picture before heading next door to Ms. Ashforth’s room, where we enjoyed a follow-up discussion on the podcast. Students shared insights about adaptations and made suggestions as to how we could help ensure marine animals have a healthy habitat. With only minutes left, we managed to get a group photo of Ms. Ashforth’s class and Ms. Palmer’s class before we were on our way back to Chapel Hill.
Weather Delays for Other Walks
Hoping to extend our celebration of National Walking Day beyond Wednesday, several staffers had other visits planned for the following day. Lori Leggatt, The Walking Classroom’s Marketing and Business Development Director, was set to go to Englewood Elementary in Nash County, and Laura Fenn was ready to head to Weldon Middle School in Weldon. Unfortunately, the threat of severe weather postponed those Thursday treks … at least for now. We’re hopeful they’ll happen within the month!