VIDEO: Mississippi classroom influencer motivates Natchez students to learn through exercise

Published 1:04 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Laughter is good medicine, Coach said to Morgantown Elementary students before instructing them to laugh as loud and as hard as they could in unison.

Not the teachers, though.

“You can’t laugh. Try not to laugh,” he told them.

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When one teacher couldn’t help herself, he told her, “Go to the principal’s office!”

This, of course, made her and the students laugh even harder. A joyous roar of laughs took over Morgantown’s gymnasium as he made a rubber fish kiss Principal Angela Reynolds on the cheek.

Larry “Coach” Calhoun, a fitness instructor and 20-year educator of the Clinton Public School District, inspired students at Morgantown Elementary School to stay fit and be good students in a group exercise on Tuesday, with plans to do the same at McLaurin Elementary on Wednesday. The exercise is part of Mississippi’s “Move to Learn” initiative, of which Coach is a proud advocate. Move to Learn is a campaign founded by The Bower Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Education to help educators incorporate physical activity into lesson plans and increase classroom engagement and learning.

Coach leads exercises in 55 different 5-minute video lessons online at

Coach shares his infectious enthusiasm for a healthy, active lifestyle with his students – inspiring them to get fit and stay fit.

Research shows that just five minutes of daily coordinated movement helps students burn excess energy and better focus on learning, he said.

Besides laughing and having a good time, students followed instructional movement videos on a screen in front of them, practicing dance and boxing moves and hand motions like dribbling a basketball or swimming and more.

As he taught, Coach told the students about himself and how he grew up in a small community, not unlike Morgantown. He recalled coming home with a note for his mother, initially dreading giving it to her because he was sure he’d done something wrong. He was told not to read it, so of course, that was the first thing he did when he was on the school bus away from his teacher’s eye.

“Actually, I had an older student read it for me,” he said.

The note was a positive one. His teacher told his mother what a good student he had been and thanked her for letting him come to her class.

Filled with joy, Coach said he left his book bag on the school bus and held the note proudly over his head with both hands, eager to deliver it to his mother. He presented it to her like a trophy while his books rolled away on the bus behind him.

“She saw that note and she said, ‘Oh no, how many days did you get suspended now.’”

It was the first positive word any teacher had ever said about him.

Coach had a lot of positive messages for the students, who sat and listened quietly to every word he said.

“I see a lot of good little girls and good little boys here,” he said. “Teachers, Principal, I hope you’re watching.”

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