Redwood Elementary School phys ed teacher Renee Stuart likes to keep her students on their toes. Especially if it means jumping.
Stuart, who along with her students, claims a part in the world record for jumping jacks, learned earlier this month she was one of 10 grant recipients nationally for her work in the Jump Rope for Heart program, which promotes heart health for children.
The $2,500 grant, awarded from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) will pay for Stuart to attend this year’s national physical education convention Charlotte and includes a $1,200 award for Stuart to purchase new equipment for Redwood.
“She using that to buy new volleyball nets for the school,” Redwood Principal T.J. Ebert said. “The nets we have now are 29 years old.”
That’s how long Stuart, as 32-year phys ed teacher, has been at Redwood. Prior to that, she taught for three years at Troy and Learwood. She also instructs one day a week at Westview Elementary School.
“We’re lucky to have her,” Ebert said. “She’s a great phys ed teacher but does so much more.”
“More” might be an understatement. Four years ago she began a walking club at the school, and this year 160 students signed up. Incorporating geography and math into the club, Stuart began charting miles walked, with a plan to “walk across America” from the District of Columbia to California, counting one mile each time one student completes 10 laps indoors or out.
“A lot of it is cross-curricular,” she said of her programs, many ideas of which are pulled from workshops and conventions she attends. “When I was at the National Convention (in Indianapolis), I looked at how a program would benefit kids in other areas.”
Stuart, who says she likes to change up programs every year, said Jump Rope For Heart is a favorite.
“I like anything with a jump rope,” she said.
Several years ago she introduced the Redwood jump rope exhibition team. She pulled 12 students, who regularly practiced, onto the team and they would tour local elementary schools. In 2011-12 she had a team of fourth-graders perform for the school.
A lifelong proponent of health and fitness
Stuart, a strong proponent to health and fitness for students, is no stranger to staying active herself. She was inducted to the Avon Lake High School Hall of Fame in 1997. Stuart graduated in 1977 from Avon Lake as the Outstanding Female Athlete and with a volleyball scholarship from Youngstown State University. She was the first modern day female ALHS graduate to receive a full athletic scholarship.
She was an outstanding volleyball and basketball player for ALHS teams, named MVP in both sports. Stuart was the leading scorer on the basketball team and as an all-around player and starter for three years on the volleyball team.
She was equally successful at the college level lettering four years in volleyball and participating in softball as well. As a starting pitcher and infielder she played on two state championship teams for Youngstown State.