Retiring teacher brought 5-day PE classes to D153

Marge Laskero was a new teacher who took the initiative to ask for a change. Her action has impacted Homewood students the past 33 years.
 
  Marge Laskero
 
Laskero was newly graduated with a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Illinois at Chicago when she got hired in 1985 to work at Homewood’s Willow School.
 
The following year, she went before the District 153 school board to ask that physical education be a five-day-a-week activity. The board agreed with her.
 
“Unfortunately five days of physical education is an exception. Homewood has always supported the PE department. You can’t ask for a better community when it comes to supporting the school system.” 
 
When the district switched to grade centers in 2002, Laskero moved to James Hart School because she wanted to coach. She will retire from there in June after 34 years with the district.
 
Laskero said physical education reinforces the need to stay active, and instilling that at a young age is essential. Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative was the latest iteration, she said.
 
“Physical literacy is the new term reinforcing the need to stay active,” Laskero explained. “From the day I started, the idea was to stay physically active throughout their lives.  As you get older it gets harder.”
 
Laskero said today we also are paying closer attention not only to fitness but also nutrition. Those lessons are part of the district’s health class curriculum.
 
“That’s a change that the kids we’re teaching now will carry on,” she believes.
 
A PE period is 42 minutes, but with time to change in and out of gym uniforms, Laskero had students for about 30 minutes each day.
 
“I try to change it up. I don’t always do the same warm-ups. Sometimes I warm up with games. One thing we definitely do is by the time they’re in eighth grade they know nine or 10 of their major muscle groups,” the teacher said. 
 
The faculty emphasizes how to properly stretch by teaching students “how to warm up first, how to start stretching and stretch afterward,” she said.
 
Laskero spent years coaching cheering squads that went out to cheer for Hart’s boys and girls basketball teams. She has photos around her office of the cheerleading squads she’s coached to championships with the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association and the Illinois Elementary School Association.
 
“That was always a lot of fun for the girls,” she said. “I have definitely had my share of girls that earned their keep.”
 
In retirement she plans to stay active and hopes to take on a few coaching jobs. 
 
“I’ve got to get up and move. I really don’t sit much,” Laskero said.
 

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