From Mr. Brian Kaye, principal at Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights, IL:
"The whole experience was great! I really appreciate the time and effort you took to walk me through the experience and then to actually follow-through on exactly what you said in our initial meeting. I know that you had to jump through the hoops in order to get into the classrooms, but I hope you can see why this was done for the benefit of the students. Your preparation and quick communication were indicators that you are serious and you are willing to do whatever is necessary to make this work. I sincerely appreciate and applaud your professionalism and persistence. I do hope that we'll be able to partner in the future and I wish you nothing but success in the future."
And from Mr. Colin Craig, Health & PE Teacher at Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights, IL:
"Having dreamed of teaching Parkour in my middle school PE classes for the past 5 years (but without knowing how to do so), I was thoroughly excited at the opportunity to bring Kurt Gowan to Thomas Middle School (Arlington Heights) to work with my 6 graders. Because of stereotypes and the way Parkour is portrayed in the media, it was a challenge at first to bring Parkour into the school. Kurt handled this with great professionalism and did a phenomenal job of alleviating the concerns my fellow staff and administration had. He explained how Parkour is a discipline- it’s not just a physical sport, but one that requires just as much, if not more, mental strength and endurance. It is about having the intrinsic motivation to push yourself to achieve more than you ever could- to overcome challenging obstacles with perseverance and discipline, focusing not on competing with others but in building camaraderie with others who share similar goals and passions. Kurt instills these values into his audience from the get-go, beginning each class with a unique warm-up that is fun and challenging but that also emphasizes the hard work it takes to develop the skills necessary to be successful in Parkour. Kurt leads by example as he participates fully in every activity he leads with the classes, which is astonishing considering the high intensity level of his warm-ups!
When it came to teaching the actual Parkour movements, I was quite impressed with Kurt’s creative and resourceful planning. Even though he was given two 30-minute classes to teach my students, he was able to teach several great movements, including cat leaps, safety vaults, traversing walls, and other creative movements using equipment we already had (such as our gym bleachers and steppers), to bringing equipment he utilizes at his own studio/gym. Each lesson with packed with activities, keeping the students stimulated and challenged. I was blown away how well Kurt’s lessons were so progressively taught, with each movement leading up to a more advanced movement in a way that allowed students to make rewarding progress, keeping them engaged, excited and motivated. He provided ample opportunities for differentiation, encouraging students to work at a pace and level at which they were most comfortable, creating a safe environment for everyone. Kurt provided fantastic feedback, both visually and verbally, and worked individually with many students, steering them towards success. It was very exciting for me to see how few students could initially do a successful cat leap, and by the end of the period nearly all of them achieved success!
Finally, as great a job as Kurt did teaching them physical movements and instilling the values of hard work and perseverance, Kurt has a personal testimony that is so valuable for students to hear. The fact that Kurt admittedly was a non-athlete in high school, a video game junkie who was unsure about what he wanted out of life, amazed my students as they witnessed the incredible movements Kurt demonstrated in class. Kurt shared how he developed a passion for Parkour, and worked extremely hard to become good at it, and how this passion has flourished into a career that has led him to invaluable life experiences. This is a story that resonated greatly with many of my students, and already I have had a handful expressing a desire to sign up for classes with Parkour Ways. As a teacher, there is no greater joy for me than to see students discovering new interests and passions that will undoubtedly impact the person they will become!"