Sara Cullinan's Roadrunners' Club, Techniques & Philosophies

Sara Cullinan


What makes the program work?
Points to Consider/Variations
Parent Letter for Roadrunner

Sara’s Teaching Techniques and Philosophies

1/4 mile track (or makeshift trail)
PFA equipment
15 parent volunteers (3 each day)
3 clipboards/pencils

During lunch recess, students have the option of participating in Roadrunners. Students who choose to participate have the option of utilizing the track and/or using the PFA equipment. Students who choose Roadrunners must participate in Roadrunners the entire noon recess in order to keep records on each student's days of participation. After completion of one lap on the track or one circuit of PFA, the students report to the designated parent volunteer to have their lap or circuit recorded. Students are limited to two "circuits" on the PFA equipment to avoid long lines. A "circuit" consists of:

  • 3 warm-up exercises
  • 10 step-ups
  • walking down the parallel bars or swinging legs back & forth 5 times
  • climbing up (4-5 grade) or down (1-3 grade) the horizontal ladder station
  • 10 push-ups or 10 sit-ups
  • pull-ups (as many as possible)
  • pole climb as high as possible
  • 10 vaults or as many as possible
  • 2 cool downs (only on last circuit)

Students' laps are totaled on a weekly basis and displayed each Monday morning on the Roadrunner bulletin board. Students' names are announced over the PA system for ten, twenty-five, forty, and sixty plus miles and students report to the physical education teacher to receive prizes based upon individual mileage (see photo for prize options). Total school mileage is charted on the U.S. map with a school goal of making it across the U.S. during the fall and again in the spring. Due to Iowa winter, the Roadrunner program is only offered for eight weeks in the fall and eight weeks in the spring. Students who complete a total of 40 or more days during both the fall and spring session are invited to attend a Roadrunner party in the spring. Pizza, pop, games, and Roadrunner certificates are provided for all students. The Roadrunner program is funded by the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and approval for funding is made in the spring for the following year.

What makes the program work?

  • Parents are given an informational note in the fall and spring with the return of parent signature for parents who wish to NOT have their child participate (due to our 97% participation rate, it was more efficient to only have the non-participants return their forms)
  • You will need a reliable and dedicated parent volunteer to compute the weekly totals (Microsoft Excel Program)
  • An enthusiastic, supportive, and fitness oriented administrator.
  • Dedicated and reliable parent volunteers who come on a consistent basis to record students' laps.

bulletin board

PFA Vault

PFA Climbing pole



Points to Consider/VariationsRoadrunner Prizes

  • Could give raffle entries for a designated number of miles. Entries are accumulated in a box and names are drawn on a weekly, monthly or conclusion of program for prizes (i.e. Toys R Us, sporting goods store). Contact local stores for donation of prizes.
  • Have a calendar sent home with days designated for Roadrunner fun days (i.e. hat day, Mardi Gras days with beads, sprinkler day, run in opposite direction day).
  • Set class goals and classes who achieve goals get awarded with extra p.e. class, extra recess, lunch with the p.e. teacher, etc. Goals could include running one mile 3x a week, everyone participate at least 3 days a week, etc..

Parent Letter for Roadrunner

March 11, 2002

Dear Parent,

It is almost time to begin the spring Roadrunner program. Due to the success of the fall Roadrunner program and the construction of our fitness trail, we plan to implement our spring Roadrunner program beginning Monday, March 25. This program is a way to increase physical fitness, improve school performance, and promote self-esteem. Olmsted 1st through 5th grade students will have the opportunity to jog or walk laps on the fitness trail during our recess times. Students will have the option of determining the number of days they wish to participate in the running program, however, individual recognition and club recognition will take place.

This spring we are also looking forward to using our new Project Fit America equipment. This equipment was sponsored by Mercy Hospital. Students will have the opportunity to use the equipment during the noon Roadrunner program and receive Roadrunner credit for using the equipment. Making one complete trip through the circuit stations will constitute as two Roadrunner laps. This new equipment places a large emphasis on upper body strength, while the running portion focuses mainly on lower body strength and cardiovascular endurance. We believe in not only giving students the opportunity to use and challenge themselves with the equipment, but also the chance to receive a total body workout.

Any student who chooses to participate in the Roadrunner/fitness program, will have their laps recorded by a parent volunteer. These laps will be totaled on a weekly basis and awards will be given to ten, twenty-five, forty and sixty mile runners. Since the fall Roadrunners completed an amazing 3,415 miles, we will be charting the total club mileage on a U.S. map. "Roadrunners" will be striving to travel from Urbandale to a determined U.S. city. This spring, students will have approximately forty days to enhance their fitness level. Any student who chooses to participate on any given day MUST stay on the Roadrunners path or fitness equipment throughout the ENTIRE lunch recess. At any lunch recess, students may choose to participate in running and/or circuit training. Remember, students do not have to participate every day!

Students who participate a total of forty or more days, during the fall and/or spring program, will become a "Roadrunners Club" member and receive a club certificate. All club members will be able to celebrate their successes at a spring club party. We plan to provide healthy snacks and fitness games.

In order for this program to run smoothly, it is crucial to have reliable parent volunteers to assist in supervising and tallying laps. We will need three daily volunteers for approximately one hour.Roadrunner Track

Sara’s Teaching Techniques and Philosophies
I am fortunate to teach all of the district's kindergartners, as Olmsted has a separate kindergarten center attached to the 1-5 building. This entails teaching 15 sections of kindergarten, along with two homerooms each of 1-5th grade. My approach to teaching young children is the use of several manipulatives (i.e. balls, balloons, scooters, milk jugs for catching, jump ropes), along with music and plenty of diversity throughout a lesson.

My belief is that fitness is essential to not only physical growth, but academic growth as well; Strong body, strong mind. The physical education environment is one in which all children can be successful, with activities designed to accommodate each child's level of ability. With the use of music to enhance movement, children are excited and eager to enter the gymnasium. I have built my program around many "extras" outside the physical education setting. For instance, each year, the student body performs a dance routine at half-time of a high school basketball game, along with a 3 on 3 basketball tournament after school, two field days, Jump Rope for Heart, and Roadrunners in the fall and spring. It is these "extras" which instill the importance of lifelong fitness habits.

In the fall of 1999, Olmsted began a "trial" running program on the grass around the playground equipment. Students were given the opportunity to walk or jog during noon recess time with parent volunteers to record students' laps. With the students running a total of 5,884 miles in ten weeks, it was decided that a track needed to be built. In the spring of 2000, a quarter-mile track was constructed and students, again, ran an astonishing 6,235 miles. School total laps were charted on a U.S. map with students' individual laps displayed weekly. Students were given prizes for ten, twenty-five, forty, and sixty plus miles. In the fall of 2001, Olmsted was fortunate to receive the grant for PFA. In order to fully utilize the equipment, PFA was incorporated into the Roadrunner program. Students now have the option of jogging/walking on the track and/or using each piece of PFA in a circuit-style training system. Students' circuits and laps are recorded by parent volunteers and displayed on a weekly basis. Students earn two "laps" for one circuit of PFA. Since 1999, Olmsted students have completed an amazing 33,956 miles! Through the use of the PFA equipment, students' upper body strength and overall fitness abilities have improved immensely. In fact, last year, students' testing scores showed overall improvement from fall to spring on each piece of PFA equipment.

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