With a brand new gym and a renewed Field of Dreams, Dana Gradman is helping to use these incredible resources to elevate and expand the athletics and wellness programming at Bernard Zell.
Still in her first few months as BZ’s newest Physical Education Instructor, Dana spent the last 12 years teaching PE in the south suburban North Palos School District, where she offered her passion for a wide range of sports to students in kindergarten through 5th grade. Despite only having recently started at Bernard Zell, she’s already noticed the warmth and positivity of families - most notably those who have introduced themselves on the sidelines of a soccer game with a hearty, “Welcome to the community!”
Originally from Oak Park, Dana first attended Boston University to pursue a degree in communications. Ultimately she realized that wasn’t the right career plan, but before changing universities, she first took a class in the psychology of sport. That experience combined with her athletic background and a summer back home working at a school coalesced together in a new pursuit. She enrolled at DePaul University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education.
Dana’s athletic background has spanned a wide spectrum including soccer, field hockey, softball, tennis and figure skating - and in high school she found a real passion in both swimming and water polo. Having this varied athletic past serves as an asset in helping each individual to find the sport they can develop a personal passion for and work on throughout school and long into the future.
“That’s what I love about being a PE teacher,” she said, “getting to help students find the sport they enjoy and seeing them work to improve in that undertaking.”
Already, Dana started off the year doing a teambuilding unit. “It's a unit that gives me the opportunity to see how the students work together to accomplish tasks, where we can reflect upon it afterward and talk about communication, sportsmanship and more. This lesson has given me a great chance to get to know the kids too since I'm meeting all of them for the first time this year.”
As the school year now really gets underway, Dana, along with her PE colleagues Kyle and Stacy, will be implementing new opportunities that the expanded facility allows. Among those opportunities are rock climbing, table tennis, badminton and lacrosse. And with the new gym’s projection technology, videos and slides will be infused into class to enhance teaching.
But even more important, Dana is thrilled to have been welcomed into this warm community and is looking forward to finding opportunities to get to know everyone from students to teachers to extended families.