Educator of the Month: Angela Stark: Starring In An Active Role

EducatorAngela Stark is a one-woman wrecking ball against childhood obesity. The mother of three has taught in Fayette County schools for 11 years, the past six as the P.E. and health teacher at Southern Middle School where she has made a national name for herself.

Under the direction of Stark and team-teacher Lisa Hager, Southern is one of two schools in Lexington to earn bronze level recognition by The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

In addition, Stark was named a national ambassador for the foundation’s Healthy Schools Program. In December, she spoke at the Missouri health conference outlining programs she has instituted.

Her innovations include —

Double the P.E. time: By creating two P.E. classes out of her health class, Stark ensures that Southern students get twice as many activity days as before. Students play team sports, divided into competitive and non-competitive groups, and also practice yoga, pilates, zumba and other lifetime fitness skills.

Outdoor walking track: Raising money through an annual 5k run she organizes, Stark helped the school install a track three years ago. The entire Southern community – school, faculty and staff – is encouraged to walk 20 minutes a day.

Transform the Food Culture: Using seed money from the Better Bites program sponsored by the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition, Stark substituted healthy snacks such as smoothies, granola bars, yogurt, fruit and water from the candy, chips and soda previously offered at the snack shop.

Classroom into workout room: Stark took out cabinets, painted the walls, tiled the floor and installed a mirror wall and stereo and video system. There are no chairs or desks so when the room is used for health class, students sit on exercise balls.

Stark practices what she preaches, running three to five miles six days a week. She ran track and cross country as a college student in the state of Washington.

“Kids are not active outside of school, so we have created an environment where they can learn that physical activity can be fun,” she said. “If I can change one child, one family or one teacher, that’s reason enough to keep going.”

Clearly, she has done much more than that.

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