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Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Lutz elementary teacher fights obesity in children

LUTZ — The family joke was that, someday, Amanda would join the circus.

Now in her seventh year as a physical education teacher at Lutz Elementary School, she was once a star high school soccer player in Key Largo who also swam and did gymnastics. However, a severe knee injury while in high school ended her dream of collegiate soccer.

But instead of giving up, the injury, instead, opened new doors.

“The family joke was that someday I might run off and join the circus,” Amanda Fulmer laughed. “That’s how it all worked out.”

After going to Florida State University, she found the school’s renowned circus program. Soon, she was touring with the FSU circus, often doing things a lot more dangerous than gymnastics. Today, a montage of photos from those days can be found in the Lutz home she shares with her husband, Paul, and her 6-year-old daughter Lana.

She claims that she chose Florida State because it didn’t, at the time, have a soccer program. She thought about trying out to be a cheerleader, but decided to join the Flying High Circus at FSU instead.

She also learned that she liked to teach kids about physical education. She started to work at summer camps while at Florida State and, upon graduation, decided it was time to get a “real job.”

The obvious choice would be to stay in South Florida. She didn’t know anyone in Tampa, but she found out about an opening at Morgan Woods Elementary School in Tampa. She got the job, stayed for seven years, and moved on to Lutz Elementary.

She has made a huge impact in her seven years at Lutz. She is committed to doing what she can to eliminate childhood obesity.

“Too many of the kids are not in shape,” Fulmer said. “As a phys ed teacher, we are supposed to make sure the kids are exercising 60 minutes a week, but it should be at least 150 minutes. At least. Recess is needed as time for exercise.”

Fulmer has some other strong thoughts on children and their exercise. She would love to open a facility called “Just For Fun,” where kids could work on physical activities like cheerleading, dance, gymnastics, and others. It would be an open-door facility, Fulmer said, where kids wouldn’t be competing, and their parents wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money on uniforms or travel. It would just be a place where kids could go and have fun without too much adult coaching and supervision.

“Kids don’t need to show up every day for practice or spend a lot of money on makeup,” Fulmer said. “If I hit the lottery, that’s what I want. A place where kids can exercise and just have fun without a bunch of adults getting in the way.”

Fulmer’s daughter, Lana, gets in about two hours of exercise every day, playing on the trampoline in the living room of Fulmer’s home, or swimming and gymnastics. She rides her bike while her parents run. Fulmer, who started the Lutz Elementary Mile Club last December, rewards her students who choose to run or walk during recess.

She is committed to fighting childhood obesity.

“It can be done,” Fulmer said. “I love my job and there’s a lot to do, but this job really rocks.”

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