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TNTP Re-imagine Teaching

David Gesualdi

Pre-K-8th Grade Physical Education and Health, The Walker Jones Education Campus Washington, DC

David Gesualdi fell in love with the transformative powers of sports and health while in junior high school, where he served as a coach on the Special Olympics team. “There are plenty of kids out there that may or may not come to school to focus on reading or math, but if you hook them with physical activity, with health and empathize with them, you can gain their trust and build their educational capacity,” he says.

In his classroom you’ll find learning spaces designed not only to allow students to learn about current health trends and habits to achieve physical wellbeing, but also teach students how to thrive in working environments they may find themselves in in the future, like an office. At one station, known as the Pentagon, students are presented with pressing health problems affecting the community and are tasked with using design thinking to develop innovative solutions.  

David, who earned a Master’s degree in adapted physical education at the University of Virginia and his bachelor’s degree at James Madison University, is known as a “devout learner” among peers. He revels in analyzing metrics and data about the community he serves; for example, he can rattle off D.C.’s childhood obesity rates broken out by age group (for his students, the average is about one in five, a fact that drives him in his daily work).

Summers are an opportunity to enhance his education with the aim of developing new approaches to challenge and support his students, who enter his classroom with unfair labels like "under performer” or "trouble maker." The Fit2College Project came out of one such summer opportunity. After a design thinking program at the d.school at Stanford University, he developed a preventative model to address two major problems: childhood obesity and college access. Through his program, he engages students in meaningful physical activity and rewards those who achieve daily activity goals with money deposited into a college savings account.

With the passion and innovation David brings to the classroom, it’s no wonder that for the last three years he has achieved a rating of highly effective by DCPS’ rigorous evaluation system. “Because of his positive disposition and his reflective way of operating, his goals rarely go unaccomplished,” says one Master Educator at DCPS who knows his classroom well. “His inquiries always bring him to exciting new ways to reach students.”