Grand Isle School
Sue Kolk, a long-standing elementary teacher at Grand Isle School, is fully prepared for her late afternoon swim workout at the gym. With her swimsuit already on and her goggles and cap stashed nearby, she is anticipating how good it will feel to be moving at a reasonable pace in the warm water. It wasn’t always this way; in fact, lap swimming is one of Kolk’s newest endeavors and she loves it.
Kolk’s foray into fitness began several years ago. Determined to make fitness much more of a priority in her life, she joined the First Strider’s running group, a group designed to support individuals new to running. Now with several 10k’s and half marathons under her belt, Kolk is upping the ante. Last summer, she and a friend created their own triathlon - swimming laps, cycling seven miles and then running a 5k.
According her colleague, school librarian Annie Barbazon, “Sue is a role model for me and other staff here. Her positive attitude and encouragement of others when it comes to practicing healthy behaviors, makes her a rock star in my book. She got me running. She was enthusiastic, put my mind at ease and there was no judgement.” When staff ask Kolk for advice on how to get started with a regular fitness routine, her response is simply, “Pick a time and commit to doing it.”
Kolk infuses wellness into her life every day. She coached the Girls on the Run program for two years. “Our youth need more physical activity,” she said. “I wish they had physical education every day.” As a VEHI PATH wellness leader, Kolk led the effort to have a walking path created around the school’s property that is now used by faculty, students and the cross country running team.
Last year she hosted an informational session on preparing healthy Mason jar salads. And in collaboration with Barbazon, she has designed curricula to encourage the first graders to practice empathy, equality and tolerance. “It’s all about learning to be kind to others and not judge,” Kolk said. On some weekends, you will find Kolk at the Chittenden County Humane Society, walking dogs and cleaning cat boxes.