TMC salutes Walker Elementary teacher on Legendary Teachers Day for infusing wellness into her school

LegendaryTeacherMonicaBermudez.jpgA few years ago, elementary school teacher Monica Bermudez had seen one too many students pull out tortilla chips or candy for their snacks – or worse, lunch.

So she started a “Fitness Fanatics” group at her school, volunteering after school to teach as many as 95 students at a time about wellness. It’s become something of the go-to club ever since.

On Legendary Teacher Day – a day set aside to honor special teachers who make a difference – TMC celebrates Bermudez, who has been teaching for 33 years and is currently teaching second grade.

Fitness Fanatics was her own brainchild. The students earn charms for every mile they run, participate in stretching exercises and play games that keep them active. The program is open to parents and teachers, too, to broaden relationships and opportunities for wellness at the same time.

There is also a nutrition component when funding allows, teaching students how to make nutritious snacks at home – from trail mix using cereal, raisins and nuts, to a fruit salad or banana sushi, which is essentially a banana rolled in Nutella and sliced. “I wanted to use things that they can find in their cabinets at home so they can make better choices,” said the 55-year-old Bermudez.

Bermudez doesn’t stop there.

MonicaGOTR.jpgShe coaches Girls on the Run, a youth development program that teaches life skills and culminates in a 5k run to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

She also volunteers with Fit Kidz, a program of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners that offers free one mile races for elementary school children.

In part, Bermudez does it because she’s become a disciple herself. Although she ran in middle school, she didn’t start running again until about seven years ago, trying to find more balance and take better care of herself. “It was my release,” she said of those early forays into running.

The next thing she knew, she was running with her daughters, and then signing up for races, and then joining a running group. She’s since started triathlons and offroad running, and is doing a half Ironman next month.

“It just took on a life of its own,” she said, noting she’s noticed a significant difference in her own health. “I used to be sick year-round, starting the second week of school and I wouldn’t be well again until the week after school was out. I wasn’t sick one time last year.”

But what keeps her going is what she sees from the kids. Inevitably, the shy girls start running and by the end of the semester they’re raising their hand in class and contributing with confidence. Several of her students have made a pact not to sit during recess, but instead, will either walk or run around the playground.

“And parents come and say, ‘Please keep doing what you’re doing because my child used to go to snack aisle at the grocery store first thing, and now they’re actually picking out fruits and vegetables from the outside aisles first.’ “

Nicholas Clement, the former Flowing Wells Superintendent and founder of Legendary Teacher Day, applauded Bermudez’ work. “Monica earned her Legendary Teacher stripes by energizing, engaging and enlightening every student every day.”

TMC encourages the entire business community to take time today to celebrate a Legendary Teacher who is making a difference in our future.

For more information about Legendary Teacher Day, which is always commemorated on the fourth Thursday of September, please visit  www.legendaryteacher.com. You may also share tributes of your own Legendary Teachers on Facebook as well.

 

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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