Congratulations are in order for 4th grade Tavan Elementary teacher Lauren Miles for winning the Coach Jesse Parker Legacy Foundation Award for excellence in academics and athletics. In 2014, Miles helped establish Tavan’s track team, the only athletic extra-curricular currently offered at the school.

Administrative Support Coordinator Ellen Young, who nominated Miles, explained that when she first learned about the award, “Lauren immediately popped into my head.”

The namesake for the award – Jesse Parker – was not only a coach, but also a teacher, and he was one of the first educators to bring honors classes to the Valley. “Lauren is both a phenomenal teacher as well as a coach,” Young said.

She explained that Tavan is a Title I school, which means that many of the children don’t have the opportunity to play sports or engage in extracurricular activities.

“We have funding to provide after-school activities, and I wanted to start a program where all the kids could participate,” Miles said. This is where the track team got its start.

“Lauren has taken this project on all by herself; she didn’t have to do it at all. She expects a lot from her students both in the classroom and out on the track field, and she wants them to have the opportunity to excel at sports,” Young said.

"Getting children active while having them be a part of a team is so important for proper development and their
social and emotional well-being."

“Many of our parents can’t afford for their kids to join club sports,” Miles said. “However, for those who do play another sport, running is beneficial. For those who don’t play any sports at all, they gain valuable life experience, like learning how to work as a group, by being active on the track team.”

Young wrote in the nomination form that “Lauren sets her students up to succeed. She always finds a way to make each student feel important, and she ensures that the students make goals and work hard at obtaining, or even shattering, those goals. I have watched Lauren run this program for four years now, and I am always impressed with how she manages and inspires each student to do better and work harder.”

Between 50 and 80 kids run track, and their season typically runs between October and May. The track team competes in meets in April and May against students from other area schools.

The Tavan track team trains for the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dash and relay events. She sees this track experience as a training ground for middle school sports and high school athletics down the line. At the moment, they don’t do any field events, but Miles said it’s a consideration for the future.

“Academics are so important,” Miles said, “but getting children active while having them be a part of a team is also important for proper development and their social and emotional well-being.”