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'You can overcome anything': SOAR Academy teachers beat back pandemic blues together

The teachers started by walking the building, and now they meet three times a week to work out. It's lifting their spirits and improving their health.

MACON, Ga. — Many educators say teacher morale has plummeted during the pandemic. They’ve had to learn how to teach online and find ways to connect with their students.

One group of Bibb County teachers has found a way to ward off the blues together. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you’ll find a group of SOAR Academy teachers working up a sweat.

Julia Daniely is the school’s principal.

“We started by just walking the building,” she said.

The eager crew figured they could step it up a notch and do more than just walking. Daniely has lost 12 pounds so far.

“When I was trying to exercise by myself or eat right by myself, I wasn’t successful. There’s something about when you have two more gathered… that’s what makes it powerful,” she said.

Math teacher Gregory Ingram is a former Marine, and he was integral in starting the fitness club. He’s lost 35 pounds since the start of 2021.

“We were trying to get 50 miles on the weekends and it kind of developed from there,” Ingram recalled.

Losing the weight is great, but with every rep on the machines, exertion of energy and encouraging word, the teachers are fighting off the stress that’s come with COVID.

“It makes coming to work a whole lot easier. It makes living in this stressful environment so tolerable,” said Ingram.

“COVID brought negativity. It brought stress. It brought fear,” said Daniely. “When you have a community, that positivity charges the atmosphere. It helps you to feel like you can overcome anything and you’re not alone.”

They even gave themselves a name: The SOAR Fitness Academy. It’s not fancy, but it is fitting.

The men and woman who educate are learning themselves that fitness can foster a positive attitude, inside and outside the classroom.

Daniely says any teachers from other Bibb County schools are welcome to join, just give her a call at SOAR. She says the group is planning to take up tennis and bowling.

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