Denver Public Schools have partnered with the the Spartan Kids Foundation to incorporate the new Spartan PE Fitness Curriculum in many of their PE classes. The fitness program was designed by Dr. Jeff Godin at Spartan, working closely with Denver PE specialists, and supported by The Spartan Kids Foundation. Jennifer Smith, Physical Education Curriculum Specialist for Denver Public Schools-and cited as the nation’s “Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year” in 2018-worked closely with Dr. Godin, to develop the program for her students.
The teacher and student comments that follow underscore the popularity and success that this new fitness training program has been generating.
Jennifer Smith, Physical Education Curriculum Specialist:
“I am an Elementary Physical Education Specialist; I teach at an urban Title 1 school. This past year, I changed schools so I was entering a new school with a new set of students who didn’t have a lot of experience with fitness or the understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Since the first day of school, I put up an “All About Me” collage of pictures that expressed my interests. I had two pictures from my Spartan Races. The kids asked right away why I was carrying a bucket and why I was muddy. They didn’t get why anyone would do those things. As I started teaching fitness components, connecting exercises and relating it all to things they could do inside our school and outside of our school, they were invested. As I gained relationships with the students, they got more interested in their health and fitness. They wanted to get stronger, faster, and healthier. As I started the Spartan Fitness unit of study, the work ethic really took a shift in intensity. Each time that the students came in during the Spartan focus, they were excited to see what challenges they were going to be able to do. I had some boys keep asking when they would be able to go out in the dirt and do these obstacles. Not only was I able to introduce the importance of fitness to my new students, I connected with these students at a deeper level through these lessons because we now had a similar passion. A lot of physical and cognitive pieces are a big part of this unit, but one of my favorite pieces to think about the whole child was the character (GRIT) education taught through the Spartan pillars. When I was writing this unit for 6th grade, I took notes on how to modify it for my 5th graders and it turned out to be one of my favorite years of teaching fitness concepts. I have students who wanting to do the actual kids races because of this unit, the real-life connection is the big picture.”
“Ms. Smith made exercising so much fun! Each time we came in and did fitness, it was always different. I am going to keep doing some of these things this summer.” Maria C.
“Spartan Races seem so much fun. Ms. Smith has a smile in all her pictures, but still looks strong. She would show us videos of the real obstacle and then we would do something just like it in our school gym. We got to pull up heavy buckets and flip a tire!” Phil N
“This was my favorite year in PE. We got to learn so many new activities all year, but my favorite was when it was Spartan Day, we got to do some fun exercises, not just jumping jacks. We learned about healthy food and how Takis would not give us energy to be able to compete in an obstacle course. I ask questions about my lunch to check my choices. I still like Takis, but I add more fruits and vegetables with them. I’m going to ask my mom if I can do a race.” Aaron M
“The spartan workouts made me push myself. I had never done some of the exercises and each Spartan Day, I wanted to do better and be challenged. I learned that I could do more than I usually try. The activities that we did were so new and Ms. Smith taught us so much stuff that I did not know about. I stretch a lot more after soccer now because I learned about why we should cool down.” Natalie R
“I always got excited when I saw the Spartan symbol in the hallway because I knew it was Spartan Day in PE. I have never played sports, but if this is considered a sport, sign me up!” Brian R.