River Valley Technical Center
Jan Wright, the special needs coordinator at the River Valley Technical Center, is a die-hard fitness guru and VEHI PATH Adventure Coordinator, having served in that capacity from PATH’s modest beginnings until this year. “Jan has been active in employee wellness for the past 30 plus years,” said her colleague, Julie Lannen. “She led fitness classes in our district for many years and once she recovers from back surgery she is considering offering a new fitness regime. She inspires people of all ages to stay fit and active, spending time researching the best ways for people to work out and stay active. Jan’s famous last words in a fitness class are “Just eight more!” We loved her exercise classes. They were so much fun and the classes made our week. “
“I became fascinated with exercise as a young girl when I watched my mother and her friends work out down by the lake in the summer,” Wright said. “They had routines and they played music from a record which I recently found among my mother’s possessions,” she said holding up the well-worn album cover. “Way down upon the Swanee River and The Yellow Rose of Texas were two of the many songs they moved to repeatedly. My mother, Bev Wright, passed away this year at 92 years of age. Fitness was a very important part of her life and sometimes we worked out at the Y together.”
Given her interest, Wright first majored in Recreation graduating from Springfield College. Subsequently she sought a graduate degree in Counseling and served as a Springfield High School guidance counselor before transferring to the technical center.
“Several years ago Julie and I attended the Mountainside school employee wellness conference in Stowe. As a result of participating, we created our own district summer wellness conference which was considered quite successful,” she said. “Of course, we did have a bit of an unexpected surprise when we were strolling on Lake Willoughby and came upon the nude beach,” she said laughing.
Wright is an avid hiker and rock climber having summited several peaks in Colorado and in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, she is presently recovering from an extremely painful and debilitating back injury. “I have really struggled,” she said. “It feels like someone cut off my arm. The people I work with and the stories they share about their own health issues are what continues to help me through my recovery. This injury has humbled me to better understand how individuals cope with a disability.”
Once hiking six or seven miles a day, Wright has set her sights on attempting part of the Long Trail if not this coming summer, the following summer. “I also hope to stay in fitness industry”, she said. To continue pursuing her goal, she makes sure to do the exercises her physical therapist has recommended on a daily basis.