Jefferson Elementary School teachers went above and beyond during a fitness challenge and managed to win $1,000 for the school’s physical fitness fund.
Michelle Mette, a first grade teacher at Jefferson, wrangled a team of teachers for the Ardmore Institute of Health’s Physical Activity Program, a fitness challenge that ran from December to April.
Mette has been a Girls on the Run coach for eight seasons.
“Originally we had a lot of banter, a lot of ‘oh, I’m gonna beat you! I’m gonna have more steps than you!,” Mette said. “But I realized my job as a leader was to encourage them to exercise, so I got a whole lot more out of the program as a team leader.”
The team stood to win $500 if 80 percent of the team kept up their participation for the duration of the contest. The team used Fitbits to track their physical activity and synced the devices to the Ardmore Institute of Health’s website. The other $500 came from meeting their goal of 750 minutes of activity each week. Dropping below 650 would have eliminated the team entirely.
Of the 50 teams in Ardmore that started out, only 12 made it to the finish line for both goals. Technical difficulties knocked out one of the competitors early on, placing more pressure on the rest of the team. Of the team’s 3,503 miles walked, Jefferson’s Even Start teacher Donna Blackmon walked the most.
 The institute gave the team an additional $300 to throw a party. Mette used the money to include the whole school and invited AIH CEO Kevin Brown. Her first grade class and Pam Brown’s second grade class performed a dance routine to celebrate.
“He said ‘you guys really went above and beyond,’” Mette said.
By the end of the five-week challenge students were getting in on the game, mimicking teachers’ steps, following them at recess and making sure to get in their steps for the day.
“You’d see all these children walking beside me,” Mette said. “What you started to see happen was that kids wanted to be more active. They’d start to banter over who was going to win.”
The school will use the prize money to buy equipment for the school’s new gym once it’s built.
“This came at perfect timing,” Mette said. “All of that money will go to physical fitness.”