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Northome-Kelliher's Waldo earns state award

Sarah Waldo enjoys being active and the physical education and health teacher in the Northome-Kelliher school district has developed a curriculum that enables her students to follow in her footsteps.

Sarah Waldo enjoys being active and the physical education and health teacher in the Northome-Kelliher school district has developed a curriculum that enables her students to follow in her footsteps.

"We do the traditional physical education activities in my classes but they are not our main focus," Waldo said. "I stress the importance of lifetime activity and eating right."

Physical education students at Northome-Kelliher will dribble a few basketballs and catch some footballs but they also will snowshoe, tie on the in-line skates, lift weights and shoot some arrows. They also will watch exercise videos and tapes that depict the benefits of being active.

"I like to showcase activities that the students can enjoy on their own," Waldo said.

Waldo's philosophy of a healthy and active lifestyle has caught on and even her elementary school students are on board.

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"I have elementary kids coming to me and asking when they can start snowshoeing, in-line skating and archery," Waldo said. "The kids have started to look forward to these activities."

Waldo's workday often starts before school when she orchestrates workout activities for girls between five and 18 years of age. On other days she will offer those activities after school.

That dedication, combined with her involvement with the students as a junior high volleyball coach, assistant track coach and game official, prompted activities director Dan Alto to nominate Waldo for recognition during Wednesday's 26th annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day event.

And event organizers were happy to oblige.

Waldo will be at the State Capitol in St. Paul today and will be among 13 women who will receive 2012 "Breaking Barriers" awards.

Also included in the group is Park Rapids High School tennis coach Barbara Thomason.

"Sarah has done a tremendous job with our physical education program and in helping kids realize that physical education is a life-long process," Alto said.

"Sarah is a quality teacher and a quality person," Alto continued, "and I know what she is doing here has had an impact. I coach junior high football and I've always been frustrated when the kids can't do 10 pushups or run very far. But since Sarah's been here I've had more and more kids be able to do those things."

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Waldo is originally from Northome and her husband hails from Kelliher. They lived in Brainerd until four years ago when a teaching position opened with the Northome-Kelliher school district.

"We always wanted to come back home so we jumped on the opportunity," Waldo said.

Since her return Waldo has educated the students, staff and the school board on the benefits of individual activity. The board members have embraced the idea to the point that they approved the purchase of enough in-line skates and snowshoes to accommodate all of the students.

"I think the activity the kids like the best is in-line skating and the school bought all the skates that we needed," Waldo said. "Buying the skates (and the snowshoes) was a shock to the budget but the school board saw the benefits of what I am trying to do and was happy to make the commitment.

"There is a trend toward individual activities (in schools)," Waldo continued. "During the first few years the kids wondered why we didn't do more team sports (in phy ed class) but now they look forward to each new activity."

Waldo will be among 21 women and girls who will be honored Wednesday at the Capitol. All of the honored women and girls were nominated by schools, community organizations, recreation centers and amateur and professional sports organizations.

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