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They were always No. 1 in my heart


Record-setting gym teacher retires



GENOAlent
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A TEACHER SURROUNDED by Brumm students, Cyndy Lent (back, third from left) said she would retire once she taught gym to the last Brumm child. All these people have had Lent as their teacher. Picture are (front from left) Brook and Gina Brumm; (middle) Candace, Shannon and Brittany Brumm; (back) Matt and Jeff Brumm, Lent, Laura, Michelle and Amy Brumm; and (in tree) Zach and Josh Brumm.

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June 22, 2011 | 08:34 AM
Five years ago, Cyndy Lent said when Brooke Brumm became a student in her gym class at Brookwood Elementary School, she would retire.

Brumm comes from a large family in the school district. Laura and Jeff Brumm have 10 children, and during an interview last week, Lent said these parents could write a book on raising kids.

"Every one of those children are as good as the next," Lent said. "You can really see the love in the family."

Lent, 58, said when she was considering retirement, this struck her as being both special and rare. A family with 10 children, all of whom went to school in the Brookwood district, and Lent taught each and every one of them.

"I don't think a lot of teachers have taught 10 children from the same family," Lent said. "But it helps to teach physical education because you'll teach children from all families (in the district), as opposed to say a homeroom teacher, who may not have any of (a family's) students in their classroom."

Then again, there aren't many families these days with 10 children.

But now, with Lent having taught a generation of Brumms the fundamentals of physical education, and because she's approaching what she called "that retirement age," she decided it was time to end her 24-year career as a K-8 gym teacher.

"Fifty-eight's a nice time to get out," Lent said.

Not your average gym teacher

There's a line in a movie: "Those who can't do teach, and those who can't teach teach gym." Certainly, Lent "can do." She said she even appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Lent conceded she's a spontaneous person. She said an idea will pop into her head and she'll just go for it. But she sets goals and accomplishes them. She loves life.

She also said she's organized and detail-oriented.

"When I was growing up, back then it was a small town, but I had made a map of Spring Grove (Ill.) and on this map I had the names of everyone who lived there," she said. "It showed where everyone's houses were."

Lent was eager to discuss her accomplishments and her next goal in life — for example, the story of how she made the Guinness Book of World Records in 1996.

"I played the longest day of golf for the American Cancer Society," she said. "You play as many holes as you can in 24 hours. You can stop at any time, but you raise money per hole, from your pledges."

In the first year she participated, Lent played 126 holes. She said she played 150 the second year, then she kept playing more — 250, 300, 350, 400, 450.

Then, Lent met a man who wanted to write about her in a book he was working on about unusual sports accomplishments. She said he could write about her if he helped her get into the Guinness book.

So he did.

"But he never did write the book," Lent said.

One summer, she said she golfed 500 holes, so she applied for placement in the Guinness book.

"Because the course wasn't long enough — I golfed from ladies' tees — they wouldn't accept it," Lent said. "You have to golf from men's tees to get in."

So she did.

"I played 509 holes from the men's tees, with a cart," Lent said. "I established the women's record."

She said she set this record at Twin Lakes Country Club, which is where she also works part-time as a bar manager/bartender. Her score was 3,331, and she played from 4 p.m. on a Sunday to 4 p.m. the next day.

"The quickest round of 18 holes I played was 41 minutes," Lent said.

"The longest it ever took was one hour 20 minutes, and all I used was a 3-wood."

She said she still holds this record, which was in print from 1996 to 1998.

"Then, they take records out," Lent said. "But if they're broken, they put them back in … but I still hold that record."

That's just the gravy on the mashed potatoes, so to speak. Lent said she participated in this event for nine years, and in the process, she raised $35,000 for the American Cancer Society.

But Lent said she has always been active. She said she participated in

37 American Birkebeiner cross-country skiing races.

"After that, I did six 50-mile runs, which were called 'ultramarathons,' then I went into golf," she said. "That was just a challenge. Recently, I walked with a friend across Kenosha County, Walworth County, Racine County, and this year, we're doing McHenry County."

Lent said she walks with Rich Mascolino, and she expects it will be a 15-mile hike through the county south of Walworth.

The longest walk they embarked on was from Genoa City to Lake Michigan, through Kenosha County. Lent said that was 27 miles, and it took them eight hours to complete it.

"Somebody asked me a couple of years ago, 'What are you going to do when you retire?' So I said maybe I'll just walk across the United States, like Forrest Gump," Lent said. "Then they said, 'Why don't you just do it one county at a time?' … I like to challenge myself. My biggest challenge is going to be to live longer than my mother. She died at 89, so I want to live until 90."

Teaching

She said she always wanted to be a physical education teacher because of her former high school gym teacher in Richmond, Ill., Dorothy Vick.

"She was just a real uplifting person who loved what she did," Lent said.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she was hired by the Brookwood district, which is where she stayed for the last 24 years.

Although Lent said she loves sports, she described her teaching style as being more about having students exert an effort and have a positive attitude than honing skills.

"What I tell my kids is your body delivers what your mind believes," Lent said.

Her advice to whoever takes her place at Brookwood schools likely was a slogan Lent told herself when she began her career: "Believe in yourself, set goals, work hard to achieve those goals."

"But have fun with your students and you'll truly be an inspiration to them," she said.

The hardest part about retiring is leaving behind a family. Tears lined the rims of Lent's eyes as she began to speak about how she'll miss the staff.

"I think I'll miss the kids the most," she said. "Somebody asked me how many children I have. I said over 300. But it really isn't about me. It's about these kids. They were always Number One in my heart."

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