Top 10

Danielle Wilkins

Orland Park , IL
Captivated, entertained, and inspired – are just a few words to describe the children participating in Danielle W.’s physical education class. Motivating children to stay active is increasingly difficult in a time when video games and television programs are constantly fighting for their attention. Fortunately, there are still physical education teachers that work with these children to promote a healthy lifestyle and instill a lifelong desire to stay active. Danielle is one of these educators, going above and beyond to provide interesting lessons and activities to keep her students engaged.

Not only is Danielle a physical education teacher, she is also the Assistant Athletic Director for Elwood School, and coaches the track and volleyball teams. Each season she helps develop the athletic skills of middle school girls, through tough practices and competitions. In the upcoming months Danielle is working to put together a summer soccer camp to keep the Elwood community moving outside of the classroom. Additionally, she finds creative solutions to interesting problems. Elwood School does not have any track and field facilities; however, Danielle used the school space provided to create structured practices. Last year the athletes’ hard work and preparation paid off, as they qualified for the state track meet.

Danielle’s physical education curriculum incorporates a variety of activities to promote lifelong wellness for the individual student. Each year Danielle’s students participate in Jump Rope for Heart - a program that educates elementary students about heart disease, as well as raising money for the American Heart Association. Furthermore, she promotes an active lifestyle for her students outside of the classroom by organizing the “Plunge to Fitness” program. Danielle partners with the Raging Waves water park in Rockford, Illinois and if a fitness log is completed, Danielle registers the student and Raging Waves sends her waterpark tickets. Danielle does not just stand on sideline – she participates as well, by signing up for community 5K runs on the weekend with some of her track athletes she continues to educate well outside of normal classroom hours.

Outside the athletic department, Danielle is a student council sponsor. Student council arranges activities in order to improve the school and local community. In the past year they have hosted fundraisers, food drives, and created awareness of drug and alcohol issues. Also, Danielle works with the student council to foster school spirit by organizing movie nights and school dances.

Danielle’s students love attending her classes, and look forward each day to participating in an exciting physical activity. Well rounded, physically active children leave her classes excited about life and ready to attack new challenges. With a gentle smile, some kind words, and a blow from her coach’s whistle Danielle is improving the lives of our next generation.