Last night, during a celebration in the Genovesi Center at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, seven school principals from around the country, including two from New York City, received the Torchbearer Award, presented by New York Road Runners.
The honor, in its inaugural year as part of NYRR’s Children’s Fitness Champion awards, recognizes innovative principals or directors of Mighty Milers/Young Runners sites who use the NYRR programs to create a supportive environment for health and fitness education. Mighty Milers and Young Runners are NYRR’s signature youth programs, and are provided free to schools and community centers to get kids up and moving.
In New York City, almost 63,000 Mighty Milers and 3,000 Young Runners are served each week. Nationally, 52,000 more Mighty Milers are involved each week, from every state plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. Internationally, 5,000 Mighty Metres students in Africa participate each week.
“Our programs are only as good as the people in schools and community centers who implement them,” said Cliff Sperber, executive director of NYRR Youth and Community Services. “The Torchbearer Award honors the school principals and center directors who champion our programs at their site, creating an environment and an imperative for success.”
A group of singing siblings from the Bronx, “Graveshift,” entertained the guests.
Of the more than 40 principals nominated by teachers in their schools, those selected to be honored were:
Chad Keone Farias, Keaau Elementary, Keaau, HI
Tammie Hinton, Red Bluff Elementary, Pasadena, TX
Yolanda Ramirez, P.S. 38, Brooklyn, NY
Cheri Rasmussen, Crooked River Elementary, Prineville, OR
Israel Soto, P.S. 57, New York, NY
Kathy Tucker, Ketterlinus Elementary, St. Augustine, FL
Jill Vice, Governor Bent Elementary, Albuquerque, NM
In nominating Vice, Ellen Luchini described one of the principal’s innovations. “Ms. Vice came up with the idea of having a Medal of Honor board, which we display prominently in the office hallway. The students’ pictures are displayed, and as they earn additional medals, we put colored star stickers on their pictures. They are so excited!”
Accepting the award on behalf of Yolanda Ramirez was Jennie Buonocore, site coordinator for Mighty Milers at P.S. 38 in Brooklyn (shown in photo). “Ms. Ramirez believes there is a correlation between running and academics,” said Buonocore. “She is a strong advocate for kids needing a physical outlet.”
Collectively, Mighty Milers ran more than four million miles during the 2011–2012 school year.