Tommie Barfield Elementary Encourages Less Screen Time, More Play Time

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Tommie Barfield Elementary Encourages Less Screen Time, More Play Time


A Look Inside Tommie Barfield Elementary

Tommie Barfield Elementary School (of Collier County Public Schools) is a school located in southwest Florida on Marco Island and enrolls over 400 kindergarten through fifth grade students. As a “Leader in Me” school, educators help students foster their passions and talents whether it be through their academics, art, music, or even physical abilities such as running and sports.

Due to Marco Island’s location, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities and provides residents the opportunity to be physically active all year round. There are many local sports programs offered for youth, adults, and seniors as well as a local park that offers many options to be active including playgrounds, walking/biking paths, and basketball, volleyball, and bocce ball courts. Marco Island residents value physical fitness and that also applies to their children.

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Meet Deana Richett

Deana Richett is the physical education teacher at Tommie Barfield Elementary and helps model the way for her students through her own passion for physical fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. By being a leader and showcasing her own healthy lifestyle, she says the students learn to respect and appreciate her physical education program. 

Most importantly, Mrs. Richett loves to see how physical activity positively affects her students inside the classroom. “Having the opportunity to run around, release built up energy and just be kids allows them to channel their energy appropriately so that there are less behavior issues and more attention spent on the learning process.”

Tommie Barfield Elementary & Marathon Kids

The development of Tommie Barfield Elementary and Mrs. Richett’s run club program started with a desire to provide students with the opportunity to increase their level of physical activity and to participate in the 95210 Kids on the Go program (a district-wide elementary program that now also uses Marathon Kids to track their miles - across 31 elementary schools 4,925 participating kids have ran 23,684 miles!).

Tommie Barfield Elementary initially started with a different running program, but after receiving professional development training on the Marathon Kids program, decided to make the switch. Mrs. Richett’s favorite part of the Marathon Kids program is the ability for students to track their running data to see how far they’ve run and their ranking for the school, grade, and class.

“Using Marathons Kids has reached out to students who are able to challenge themselves and seek success outside of the classroom. It has increased the passion of running and the excitement of coming to school.”

Less Screen Time, More Play Time

A common challenge among teachers, including Mrs. Richett, is getting students away from their phones and other digital distractions and encouraging them to go outside and play instead. Too much screen time for children reduces crucial social and physical development opportunities they would receive from playing and interacting with each other. The Marathon Kids program has helped Tommie Barfield students increase their physical activity time by creating a fun environment for students to socialize while being physically active; and it has even created a friendly competition among some of Mrs. Richett’s more serious runners.

In Mrs. Richett’s class, all students run once a week in P.E. class for about 10 minutes as a warm up. She also oversees a run club for 3rd to 5th grade students who run twice a week for 20 minutes before school. Each student is able to track their laps and miles ran through the use of their scannable ID card provided by Marathon Kids.

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Building the Motivation

Through the use of Marathon Kids and extra incentives provided by Mrs. Richett, students at Tommie Barfield Elementary have been more motivated than ever to run and support their fellow classmates - running over 3,383 miles so far this year!

At the end of class, students have the opportunity to give each other high fives to recognize others for positive things that happened that day in class. A very common high five for the students is for their running buddy - a favorite aspect of Mrs. Richett’s running program for many students that keeps them motivated and accountable. 

In their P.E. class, each grade level has a daily goal for how many laps they should complete during their warm up time. If students reach that goal, they receive a sticker for the back of their ID card. Additionally, run club members receive a sticker on the back of their run club card for every mile that they complete that day. Mrs. Richett uses these stickers as a daily motivation piece so students can always see how many laps they’ve completed that day.

“The incentive program that I have tied to the running program has worked really well. It has given students a short term and long term gratification for their achievements. Students receive a sticker if they reach the running goal for that day, and once a month they receive their running bling for their progress over the past month.“

This motivation provided by Mrs. Richett and the Marathon Kids program has already seen huge success with one student even reaching 100 miles ran last year! As he finished his run that day, his classmates huddled around him with excitement and celebrated that he reached his goal! Prior to Marathon Kids, receiving daily updates on the number of miles students ran would have been very difficult - but thanks to the fitness tracking app, special moments like this were possible.

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A Lasting Impact for Students

The physical education and running program Mrs. Richett runs is helping students live healthier lives and even parents are noticing. 

“Last year a parent reached out to me to thank me for the program. They told me how their student was becoming disengaged and didn’t find much enjoyment in any sort of physical activity. (However) once they started with the running program, both during PE and run club, they developed a passion for running and being physically fit. The parents said the running program was a total game changer and they were thankful for the positive effects that they saw in their student.”

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