Tailoring a Run Program for Students Through Customization
Manatee Elementary School (of Collier County Public Schools) is a school located in Naples, FL and enrolls over 500 Pre-K through 5th grade students. It is a Title 1 school (a program that provides financial assistance to schools with a large portion of low-income household students) and 88% of the student population come from economically disadvantaged households.
Although their students may not come from the most affluent households, the school doesn’t let that affect their students' education and their health as they promote healthy lifestyles as a Blue Zone School - a program that emphasizes wellness through nutrition and exercise.
One of the biggest ways students at Manatee Elementary love to stay healthy and active is through their PE classes and running. The students love hitting the track or field and are always sure to encourage their fellow classmates to keep running and accomplish their goals.
Kevin Santiago is a key motivation for this focus on health, wellness, nutrition, and exercise at Manatee Elementary as the PE teacher. Before becoming a teacher, Coach Santiago was a NYC Narcotics Officer. To be the best at his job (and ensure he always made it home safely at the end of a shift), he lived and breathed a healthy lifestyle through exercising daily and staying in shape.
Coach Santiago uses his time as an officer as well as his healthy habits to show his students exactly why physical fitness and healthy lifestyles are important - especially for a growing body. Running and physical activity provide major benefits outside of physical health - and Coach Santiago is sure to always reinforce that with his students. Thanks to his ability to keep his students running and active, they are able to better stay focused in the classroom as well as improve their overall mood and mental wellness.
Coach Santiago first transitioned from an officer to a PE teacher in NYC where he also first started a running program for his students. He saw the running program as a great way to get his students to school early, exercising, and eating a nutritious breakfast. His students loved it.
With the great success that his running program had in NYC, he knew he had to implement another program when he found a PE position in Florida. Due to the many great features that Marathon Kids provides PE teachers, he knew exactly what program would help his students want to run. “Marathon Kids has provided us with many free resources. I can now easily track my students’ progress, and I can manage my rosters with ease. My students love when I display the leaderboard so they can see their progress.”
Marathon Kids is such a versatile program that Coach Santiago is able to use it for 2 separate running programs he leads and alongside the program he first adopted in New York. Before school even starts, Coach Santiago’s first running program begins as students at Manatee Elementary can choose to start their morning off with exercise. 110 students participate in the Kids on the Go (KOTG) program that takes place in the morning from 7:35 - 7:55am and uses Marathon Kids to track his student’s progress.
Once his morning routine for the KOTG program ends, Coach Santiago begins his PE classes with his students. In his PE classes, he uses a combination of his original New York program alongside Marathon Kids to get his students running. The two programs work hand in hand perfectly as he uses Marathon Kids to properly track his students' miles and progress and then uses incentives from his New York running program to award and celebrate his students’ wins.
To keep his students motivated, he will run with his students - and Coach Santiago’s passion for running motivates his students to want to keep up. He challenges each his students with the goal of running a marathon by the end of the year - which equals a school goal of 7,800 miles. Whether his students run the entire class period or take breaks to walk, he is always sure to praise them for moving and their dedication to health and well-being.
For additional motivation, Coach Santiago makes sure to celebrate his students by awarding his top performing runners. The top runner of each grade for PE is awarded a $25 gift certificate of their choice for their performance and efforts. For his KOTG students, 2 top runners are selected every month and are then interviewed and photographed to be a star on their “Runners Club Board” - and they’re also acknowledged on their local morning news channel!
Coach Santiago shows the importance of creating a running program that works for his students. By utilizing aspects from multiple programs alongside the fitness tracking capabilities of Marathon Kids, he is able to supercharge his running program and make his students more excited than ever to run!
Make Marathon Kids Your School's Running Partner