Elysian Valley school gets in shape with the help of the YMCA

Courtesy of Dorris Elementary School

ELYSIAN VALLEY — In early January a team of four energetic YMCA youth coaches debuted their school-based fitness program at Dorris Place Elementary School in the Elysian Valley.

School administration, staff and parents were searching for a supplemental physical education program for more than three years, and finally got it. The non-profit group, Partners of Dorris, had raised funds  in hopes of gathering enough donations to help finance the cost of bringing a specialized fitness program to the school. This year, that investment paid off  when representatives of Anderson-Munger YMCA presented the program to parents and staff.

The gifts of the YMCA program are two-fold. Teachers get grade level planning time while the students exercise.

“We are excited to partner with YMCA to promote health, fitness, and fun. While the students are receiving the benefits of learning from the YMCA coaches, an added bonus is that our teachers will have regular opportunities to collaborate for short-term and long-term lesson planning,” said Susan Grant Schmidt, Principal Dorris Place Elementary

The cost of the weekly program is shared 50-50 between Partners of Dorris’ non-profit fundraising proceeds and school-based funds for special programs.

Courtesy of Dorris Elementary School

Courtesy of Dorris Elementary School

“We are so grateful for everyone’s support to make this happen. It was thrilling to see the program launch and watch the YMCA coaches and our kids interact with such promise and enthusiasm today,” said Yolanda Lin, Vice President, Partners of Dorris.


  1. The program is now in it’s third week and the kids (and staff) are loving it. Great, high-energy coaches from the YMCA. We are so grateful for this affordable program that serves the kids and gives our teachers extra planning time– which is a necessity for the success common-core.

    We are so proud of our little neighborhood school, each year adding on another benefit customarily associated with more affluent communities, and bringing them to the deserving children of the Elysian Valley. Dorris Place is Title 1; 86% of the student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch.

  2. Go Tigers! The dedicated POD parents and Principal Schmitt worked tirelessly to make the program happen. Dorris Place Elementary is an awesome school.

  3. So thankful to the dedicated teachers, administrators, involved parents and Partners Of Dorris for making Dorris Place a better learning environment for our kids at this school. A much needed and essential part of our kids’ experience during their early development. YAAAY for P.E.!!!

  4. Anne Marie Grewal

    This reflects not only the work of the school and parents, but also the kids and the wider community. This program is the result of lots of good administrative work coupled with several years of fitness fests, which included volunteer-run activities, kids soliciting pledges, and parents, grandparents, neighbors and local businesses donating money and in-kind goods and serivices. The result is testament to the good that can come from cumulative effort. Where the district may be unable to meet our needs, we have figured out how to bootstrap ourselves into a better situation. Yet another example of how this Title 1 school has developed a dynamic community to help better educate our kids.

  5. My son is really enjoying the YMCA PE program. Aside from the physical benefits, I like that he’s also learning things like patience, teamwork and persistence. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Dorris Place community. I am constantly amazed by the determination and can-do attitude of the faculty and parents to ensure that our children have opportunities unavailable at many schools, like PE and music. Congratulations Dorris Place!!

  6. Another great, well deserved, and necessary program now in place for the students of Dorris Place. This is an outstanding school whose students deserve the Best!!Thanks to POD that is happening. Congratulations to all !!

  7. Go Dorris! I’m so glad that fitness fest has paid off and the school finally has a real PE program.

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