The Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) knows that some of the world’s most innovative ideas have come from North Carolina’s Triangle region. To honor those creative thinkers, TBJ held its first-ever Innovation Awards ceremony on October 4th to highlight the ways this region’s businesses confront problems and seek solutions. TBJ honored the innovative spirit of 13 North Carolina companies, and The Walking Classroom was among them!
“Choosing winners for our inaugural Innovation Awards was no easy task,” says Jason Christie, publisher of TBJ. “The strong pool of nominees represented very worthy initiatives. It’s no secret that the Triangle is known for innovation, and these winners are proof of that.”
Innovation refers either to something new or to a change made to an existing product, idea, or field. Laura Fenn, creator and executive director of The Walking Classroom and a former fifth-grade teacher, added a rather innovative new tool to her teaching methods.
She noticed a direct correlation between her students’ academic performance and the amount of physical activity they regularly had. Recess and PE time were being cut, and her students were cooped up in the classroom way too often. So, one day while she was taking a walk, listening to an interesting podcast, and getting some fresh air and exercise, she had a revelation. She could build more physical activity into her students’ school day with fun, educational podcasts.
Her students could get the exercise they desperately needed without sacrificing instructional time. The Walk, Listen, and Learn program was an instant success in her classroom. Her students’ attitudes about exercise improved, as did their end-of-grade achievement scores, with her struggling students making the most noticeable gains.
In six years, The Walking Classroom has grown from Laura Fenn’s single fifth-grade classroom to over 50,000 students in classrooms across all 50 states—all walking, listening, and learning! And, over 70% of all materials distributed have been donated.
“We’re so very thrilled at being chosen for this award,” says Laura Fenn. “Our program is simple but effective, and we truly appreciate the recognition from the Triangle Business Journal. As a small nonprofit, getting the word out about our program is very important. This award is helping us do that!”
Congratulations to all of the 2017 winners.