Teachers traverse the country

Published 8:59 pm Saturday, June 17, 2017

Teachers and other staff members in Suffolk Public Schools traversed the United States more than twice this year — virtually, at least.

The school division got a system-wide walking program going with the support of Suffolk on the Move, a part of Healthy Suffolk. Suffolk on the Move provided incentives, with the teachers, assistants, administrators and others doing the legwork.

“I think everybody enjoyed it,” said Anne McCoy, the physical education teacher at Oakland Elementary School who helped lead the program. “Suffolk on the Move was amazing. This was just a fun way to walk and have a good time.”

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McCoy used a program called Log It to track her colleagues, who were separated into teams based on their grade level.

“Log It is meant to be used with classes, but we used it for adults, which was cool,” she said.

The program has a feature that showed a map of the United States with various points of interest marked in a jagged loop. As a group, the teachers walked along the path for more than 20,000 miles, or about 2.2 miles around the loop. Even more impressive, they only started the program in March.

“Maybe next year, we could do it all year long,” McCoy said.

The Elementary B schools came in first place, followed by the high schools, middle schools, Elementary A schools and, in last place, the School Administrative Offices.

McCoy sent out various challenges to the participants each week. She tried to make them accessible, she said. For example, one of the challenges urged participants to increase their steps by just 50 steps per day.

“We want to make sure we create a program that’s for everyone,” McCoy said. “Our goal is overall wellness and health, not necessarily who’s No. 1. I wanted to do what we can do to help everybody feel better about themselves and their personal health.”

McCoy said the three gift cards provided by Suffolk on the Move were a good incentive.

“They liked having that incentive,” she said. “Who wouldn’t?”

Deborah Nadell of Suffolk on the Move said she had done the walking program with a few schools in past years, but this year they decided to involve every school.

“This is the first year we’ve ever had the entire Suffolk school system involved, so I thought that was really cool,” Nadell said.

She praised the way the teachers set up their own program.

“They had a different challenge every single week,” she said. “They would go after different people’s strengths, so it wasn’t the same thing every single time. Every week, (McCoy) let each group know how far they had gone and what state they were in.”

McCoy said the group is looking forward to doing the program again.

“It’s a neat way to get people motivated to move and to step,” she said.