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Glen Rock Teachers Coach Running Program For Girls

Longtime friends Jenn Burke, left, and Sharon Bonanno will team up to coach Heart and Sole in Glen Rock.
Longtime friends Jenn Burke, left, and Sharon Bonanno will team up to coach Heart and Sole in Glen Rock. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

GLEN ROCK, N.J. — Two of Glen Rock’s elementary school teachers will team up this fall to coach Heart and Sole, a national 12-week running program for adolescent girls sponsored by Girls on the Run , twice a week at Glen Rock Middle School.

Jenn Burke, a third-grade teacher at Richard E. Byrd School, and Sharon Bonanno, a fifth-grade teacher at Central School, feel the foundation for their team already has been built since many of their athletes are their former students.

“We’ve known the kids in one way, in the classroom,” said Bonanno, of Ramsey. “I’m hoping that the comfort level and trust is good when they come to Heart and Sole.”

Bonanno and Burke are longtime friends now living in the same Ramsey neighborhood. The runners said they do community volunteer projects as often as they can.

“We’re very similar people with similar foundations and core values ,” Bonanno said. “We will naturally exude those things to the kids.”

The program will run for the first time nationally this season as Heart and Sole, formerly Girls on Track.

The new curriculum will focus on any issue the girls want to talk about — like self-esteem, drugs and puberty — with the ultimate goal of completing a 5K race at the end of the season.

Burke and Bonanno are looking forward to seeing what they can learn from their athletes and apply to their students and their own adolescents.

“You can’t be a good teacher without being passionate about the students," Burke said. “This will give us good insight to our students, our kids and the girls we’re coaching.”

Heart and Sole’s new curriculum includes a strength-training component, which longtime runner Bonanno said she’s looking forward to doing “down on the ground” with her girls.

Burke is excited to tie the strength training into the new curriculum.

“The program’s whole idea is of strength and power, and I love that,” she said. “Running is great for some people but running is daunting for others.This is your core and it’s so important. It’s not hard it’s fun.”

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