By NIKKI DOTSON MERRITT
LAVALETTE - It is believed children in industrialized countries lack the resilience and grit to achieve difficult goals, but with a new program at Lavalette Elementary School the staff is hoping to instill the qualities to students beginning in Kindergarten.
LES teachers and principal Allie Brewer underwent a training last week for introducing the “Spartan Edge” program not only in Physical Education classes, but throughout the whole school.
Spartan Edge is a program developed by top researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and other leading institutions to adress the “obstacle immunity” problem in children.
The institutions spent the past six years conducting one of the largest informal studies of grit and resilience, and in observations of 15 million people across 30 countries, the study found that, when adults and children leave their comfort zones and relearn grit and resiliency, they feel good about themselves, change their frames of reference and begin to achieve things they never thought possible at work, at school and at home.
To apply these findings to the education of young people, Spartan Edge, a comprehensive Educator Certification System and Summer Camp Program, was created.
At Lavalette, the program will be used in different aspects of the educational environment.
“Our kids are coming with so much baggage and so much that is going on in their lives that we felt like they weren’t able to be successful or that we weren’t meeting their needs,” Brewer said.
“So, with this program we are going to focus more on their growth and the process involved and getting them to set their own goals and show their own growth. That is what we are focusing on.”
Brewer said in the middle of that is teaching some of the character ed traits - like grit, resilience and perseverance - the Spartan Edge program stresses.
“It is going to be implemented with Mr. Fuller and our PE program, but then it is also going to be implemented through our discipline policy and consequences and rewards and also through our counselor,” she said.
“This training is to show the teachers how they can use it in their classrooms and how to be more focused on the student’s growth and not just what they are learning.”
Spartan Edge partners with institutions to bring resilience to the classroom by first providing educators with 10 educational modules that they can deliver in a classroom setting. Through these modules and webinars, educators learn how to incorporate topics such as grit and resilience into their curricula. The Spartan Edge Educator Certification system culminates in a two-day, guided workshop to put these lessons into action.
PTO member Jessica Copley brought the program to the school as a way to motivate LES students after seeing the motivation the program gave her own children. Copley is a trained Spartan coach.
“I first decided to do a Spartan race after a surgery and I worked really hard to complete it. But, in that process I changed my life and my family’s lives,” she said.
“We used to eat for fun, and now we go for a run for fun. We are more active together and I have seen my kids’ confidence grow through this. This whole mental side of the program has brought so much to my life that I didn’t know I had so one of the things that my coach said to me was ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable,’ and seeing the changes in myself and my family I am now also able to see where the downfalls in education are and how we can improve those using this program.”
Copley will offer both an afterschool program for students as well as a family program for the community.
PE Teacher Brad Fuller said he believes the program can not only help with discipline in class, but to teach his students to both make and achieve goals.
“With the Spartan race itself, the curriculm and the activity fits perfectly,” Fuller said. “But, what I’ve really learned is there is a lot ofcharacter ed and a lot of setting goals that can be used as a tool.
“We are teaching something deeper that is going to follow them not only in physical education, but in life.”