TMC recognizes Acacia Elementary teacher Linda Anderson as a Legendary Teacher

When Linda Anderson turned 40, she got serious about getting fit.

She started walking and before you knew it, she was running short distances.

She was hooked.

The third grade teacher has since run nine marathons, including one up Mount Lemmon for her 50th birthday and too many half-marathons to count. She runs three times a week, including three miles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and a longer 7 mile run on Saturdays.

She’s shared that love of fitness with students, serving for eight years as a Girls on the Run coach.

For her commitment to building health in her community, Tucson Medical Center honors her on Legendary Teacher Day, held annually the fourth Thursday in September – Sept. 27 this year.

Legendary Teacher Day

TMC selects a special teacher each year to honor on the day, which was established in 2014, is a tribute to teachers and a chance to reflect on those who make differences in the lives of others.

Anderson never thought she’d be a teacher. After a career in the banking industry while raising her two children, Linda began working in the children’s ministry at her church. That inspired her to embark on education studies.

“It’s a calling and I know I am exactly where I need to be, praise God,” she said.

Girls on the Run

When she learned about Girls on the Run in 2011, Anderson was able to combine her passions for teaching and for running. The youth development program teaches life skills, culminating in a 5k to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment in girls. This fall, Acacia has four coaches with two groups of 15 girls each.

Sylvia Brown, who serves as the TMC coordinator of the program, said she was honored to nominate Anderson. “Linda has been a consistent supporter of Girls on the Run, fully supporting the program and the mission,” she said.

As for Anderson, she said she believes in the purpose of the program.

“The girls are at such a pivotal age to learn these things. With third through fifth graders, they are still young, but their foundations are being set. There are things they’ll have to deal with and this program helps teach them and provide them tools to meet these challenges – whether they come next week or years down the road.”

Anderson recalls getting choked up at one year-end celebration, when one girl shared that the program “has changed my life. I was one of the mean girls, but I’m not anymore.”

“I can see girls grow into their own,” she said. “Some are shy coming in and they open up, gaining self-confidence.”

“I believe in the program and the impact it has on these girls. They learn they can do anything they want. They can make decisions on their own.”

This fall’s season, sponsored by TMC and UnitedHealthcare of Arizona, is just getting underway with the girls, who meet twice a week.

“Girls on the Run provides a tremendous opportunity for UnitedHealthcare to help support these Tucson youngsters as they learn to live healthier lives and to become strong, independent and confident women,” said David Allazetta, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Arizona. “We salute Linda Anderson for the commitment she has made to their education and their transformation through running.”

The program also comes at a critical time, when peer pressure starts ramping up, Anderson noted. “The program teaches them to be healthy, not skinny, that they are worthy. We encourage them to see the beauty and self-worth inside of themselves, and we talk about the benefits of moving and taking care of themselves.”

An elementary school teacher’s life is busy by default. Still, taking on the added responsibility of being a coach is not a problem for Anderson. “It’s not extra for me. Its part of what I do. I look forward to it. It’s one area I can make a difference.”

“It’s really cool to watch them encourage each other. We encourage them to be the best you, you can be.” We don’t ask if you beat the other girl. We ask ‘Did you do your best?’”

“Then to see the sheer joy when they finish their first 5K run is so amazing,” she said. “Their smiles are as big as Texas.”

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.

 

TMC celebrates “Legendary Teacher Day” by honoring Whitmore Elementary teacher

Grpicture-ms-halleat teachers are critical in building community – and as Tucson’s community hospital, Tucson Medical Center would like to express our gratitude by celebrating Legendary Teacher Day today.

Last year, TMC honored two of its longstanding nurse educators, Cathy Kolbe and Kathy Hughes.

This year, TMC would like to recognize Ann Hall, a fifth grade teacher at our neighboring school, Whitmore Elementary School.

Like all exceptional teachers, Hall works hard every day to make a positive impact on students.

On top of the academic requirements teachers must meet, Mrs. Hall is credited with going above and beyond to address the needs of the whole child’s growth and development.

“She excels at finding what engages students and uses that to build their confidence and to help them learn concepts that might be more difficult for them,” said Mary Atkinson, TMC’s director of wellness. “This concept of teaching to the whole child parallels our principles in the Wellness Department at TMC. We believe that no one can truly be healthy and well without focusing on all aspects of oneself.”

In addition to helping to develop children through academics and social/emotional development, Ann Hall also understands the importance of physical health. She volunteered her time after school for two seasons to help support Girls on the Run – a program for girls in third through fifth grades that is focused on developing healthy behaviors and positive self image through running.

TMC donated $250 to provide additional classroom supplies for Mrs. Hall’s class.

Lisa South, the principal at Whitmore, added, “Ms. Hall is commended for her dedication to her students and her perseverance in finding solutions to any barriers that may impact their learning.

“She works hard to plan instruction that meets student needs, both academically and emotionally,” South continued. “Ms. Hall’s ability to build relationships with students, parents, and staff, has made a positive impact on her classroom and on our entire school community.  The pursuit of excellence and caring nature she exhibits day in and day out make her an inspiration to all.”

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


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