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Innovative Educator: McCall teachers put their own 'spin' on education

Three teachers at Payette Lakes Middle School teamed up to get 20 spin bikes to help their students focus on fitness and learning.

Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union. 

With the music bumpin' the pedals on spin bikes are pumpin' at Payette Lakes Middle School in McCall.

"There are so many kids that just need to move," sixth grade language arts teacher Amanda Hathaway said. "Middle schoolers need to move."

And boy are they moving since the Viking School of Spin started earlier this fall.

"I really like how excited they are," Hathaway said.

Hathaway, reading teacher Jacquelyn Henggeler and physical education teacher KC Wheeler are the driving force behind the project. They are all avid spin bike riders and certified spin bike instructors.

"I like the fact that the spin bikes are a lifetime sport," Henggeler said.

They came up with and followed through on the idea as they moved from teaching from home because of the pandemic, to a hybrid model and then back to in-person.

"Kids were stressed," KC Wheeler said. "They weren't getting physical activity as much as they wanted to, and we needed a place for them to feel like they could do something new and exciting and have a positive moment in all of the COVID world."

They applied for and received grants from the McCall-Donnelly Education Foundation and Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation to buy 20 spin bikes with heart rate monitors, IPads and a fitness program that includes different bike races and competitions. Wheeler described the kids trying to keep up with their digital instructor.

"They were all just hyper-focused," Wheeler said. "If they weren't on the bike, they were cheering their friends on, like hey ratchet down your resistance a little bit. You could just see the energy in the gym was really palpable."

The music isn't always bumpin' when the kids are on the bikes. They can also listen on headphones to audiobooks on the IPads while spinning. That's perfect in Henggeler's reading class.

"It was eerily silent in my room because they were just listening and riding and they were dripping sweat," Henggeler said. "It was really fun to see."

The kids can ride the bikes in gym class, in regular classes like the reading class, between classes and after school. The teachers love that the spin bikes can be moved easily from the gym to different rooms and that they can be adjusted to fit each student.

"And that's the beauty of the spin bikes, and why we decided to do it, was it meets the needs of every individual kid, where they're at," Wheeler said.

"I think our biggest mission with the spin bikes was to give kids an opportunity to learn how to manage their own fitness and how to find passion to do something that just overall makes them healthy," Hathaway said.

The whole staff at Payette Lakes has been along for the ride.

"I want to say like almost everybody came down, and it only took us 45 minutes to put all the bikes together," Henggeler said. "We timed it."

All to give the students a different spin on exercise and education.

"I would like the kids just to see the power of group fitness," Hathaway said. "It's fun to work out with friends."

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.
Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit 
www.capedfoundation.org.

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