Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) educator Andrew Bartolacci takes health and wellness personally when it comes to raising money for his physical education program at George W. Julian School 57.
Now in his seventh year with IPS, the physical education teacher regularly competes in charity events across the city to acquire equipment, clothing, and other necessities for his students.
“As a physical education teacher, you quickly realize funding from districts doesn’t usually get thrown your way in large amounts,” said Bartolacci, who also serves as his school’s athletic director. “So, if you need supplies you must find resources. The resources are everywhere with various organizations looking to help. Then you just need to meet the deadlines and make sure you complete all the requirements. Then, you lace up your shoes or hop on a bike – hoping for the best.”
While he is competing for new basketballs, shoes, or gym clothes, he wants his students to understand the need to be strong physically.
“Because without your health, you have nothing,” Bartolacci said. “Being physically active and knowing how to stay healthy, literally will save your life. The Centers for Disease Control just came out and said this past weekend 75% of the covid deaths had four or more other health issues. They also came out and said obese or overweight Americans were significantly more at risk.
“We need students to understand, some life health challenges are avoidable and you can avoid them with a healthy lifestyle. I try to lead by example for my students by staying extremely active myself”
The 34-year-old father of two has been a fundraising pro in the last few years, including:
- Participating in the Big Ten Education Initiative grant, raising $7,500 with a matching gift to push the total to $15,000.
- Receiving several Inspiring Youth Sports Equipment grants through Indiana Sports Corporation.
- And, earlier this year, participating in the Dakich Cycles for the City program, which provides bikes to Indianapolis children in need.
Bartolacci’s dedication has not gone unnoticed by his peers. Kathy Langdon, district physical education and health coach, is a fan. The pair work together regularly since 2020 when Bartolacci was named Lead Physical Education teacher in the district.
She also believes Bartolacci is one of the district’s rising stars. He was nominated as a Top Ten Teacher in IPS for the 2019-20 school year.
“Andrew uses conversations and brain science to build rapport with students to help them maintain regulation,” Langdon said. “Andrew always takes time to listen to students and allow for them to be who they are in his classroom”.
She also noted that Bartolacci, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Michigan State University[AG1] , is a rising star.
“Andrew is an amazing person in everything he does,” Langdon said. “He goes beyond the classroom in helping his students and does everything with a gentle kindness, always wanting more for his students. He is no ordinary teacher, athletic director, or human. He is a lane all his own and he is one of the best teachers or humans you could ever meet.”
Bartalocci, who is armed with certifications and coaching and personal training, has no plans to stop lacing up shoes to run a charity race or turn down an opportunity to meet with a new sponsor for his program.
“It sounds cliche but my students are family. I want to see them succeed, I want to pick them up when they fail. I want them to know someone is always in their corner rooting for them. I know how important it is for kids to have people show up for them. I am that person for them”