Title I schools serve underprivileged areas with high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I schools are also so economically challenged that they are behind in many tangible ways compared to other larger public or private schools with more economic scope, scale, and fundraising norms.
A year ago held a “Community & Unity” event. David Irizarry, community engagement coordinator with Molina Healthcare, a large California-based managed care company, attended the event with the objective of doing something –– anything –– to help the school become sustainably healthier, along with a $3,000 donation budget.
Wearing her authentic jersey on installation day, Sampson explained: “David Irizarry, Johanna Perez, and their Molina Healthcare team kept talking with us and trying to partner with us to make stronger through programs and events aimed to increase community health and enrich the student experience. Molina offered [us] funding as part of , so we discussed the idea of an ”
Hopping onto a “,” third graders had to throw a fabric ball at a “right answer” target or math chart installed onto the classroom wall. Next, students were asked to sing along whereby every time a “B” word was heard, they had to stand up, squat down, jump, or clap. It’s akin to adult Jazzercise, Curves, or a yoga or spinning class for kids, combined with math and spelling questions.
To be clear, is not physical education class. Labs are not gymnasiums, a race to win, or sports. is physically and mentally challenging academics in what might have formerly felt like a boring and sleepy classroom.
What is striking was how easy it was for the school, the sponsor, and the to approve and install the equipment. There was no construction, accounting, exhaustive paperwork, or red tape. The was designed, approved, and paid for within one month. Installation took less than five hours.
However, here’s where Huger’s small world turned out to be even smaller: The national headquarters for (formerly KidsFit) is also located in South Carolina…in Huger…on Cainhoy Road…about a mile from the school.
Ed Pinney started in 1999, and then merged with , founder of the consultancy. Today, Pinney’s 30-employee, Huger-based company installs into schools nationwide, mainly in California, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Oklahoma, and the Washington, DC area.
matched $3,000 donation, which green-lighted Sampson to install an even better 18-piece configuration totaling $6,000. equipment costs range between $300 and $700 each, with some included to help launch their new program.
Master trainer has been working with for nearly three years. spent 43 years working for , and has both passion and experience with modern neuroscience and (visit to learn more about what produces, installs, and trains).
“It’s the teachers who are driving all of this positive change,” says. “They love it, and once parents come to the school and see their kids being trained –– rewired, really –– everyone wants an of some size installed inside their school immediately.”
The proof was clear. Eight-year-old Paris was wide-eyed and talkative after her very first 30-minute session. A question and answer session with Paris nearly brought tears to the eyes of the teachers and sponsors in the hallway:
Q: What did you learn today?
A: “We didn’t have this stuff in our normal classroom!”
Q: Did you have fun today?
A: (Nodding yes)
Q: Would like to do this every day at school?
A: “This makes me want to come to school.”
Q: What did you learn today?
A: “How to get smarter…Learning…learning makes me stronger.”
According to trainers, the core problem and barrier is centuries old “educational incarceration.” Young students are often asked to sit still, keep hands on their desk, face eyes forward, feet flat, and don’t you dare talk or move all day long.
“Some educators are still hesitant to change the way the classroom has always operated” says. “The idea of allowing school children to be up and moving around is so foreign to them... students sitting quietly with their hands at their side all day long is more convenient, easy, and cost-effective... and changes cost money. -- But to see the impact that it makes on children is truly incredible. I get to see it first hand every day, and that's what keeps me pushing forward. We're changing kid's lives."
At , children are being re-wired with mentally challenging physical action, vestibular movement training, increased blood flow, and a burst of joy at school every day, which is a welcomed change to staff and administrators.
Title I facilitator Joannah Sampson said she “is just so appreciative that our allowed our elementary school to become so much more impactful to our students” and so much more entrepreneurial with their own program, almost overnight.
Daniel Island resident Baron Christopher Hanson is the principal and lead strategist at Baron Christopher Creative. Hanson has written for Harvard Business Review, SmartBrief, and The Daniel Island News. Contact him at [email protected].