Olympic Athlete Mentors Revealed as Part of New Classroom Champions Partnership in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District

September 8, 2017 16:59 pm · 4 comments

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) is launching an eight-school partnership with Classroom Champions, a program founded by Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler, pairing MDUSD teachers with American Olympians and Paralympians as mentors who use video lessons, live video chats, and social media to engage students and encourage them to recognize their potential, set goals, and dream big.

The focus is on social and emotional skills that students need for success in school and in life, and to help build a culture of resilience.

Classroom Champions is the first program of its kind to partner with teachers to bring these elite athletes training for their next Olympics or Paralympics into schools to provide ongoing mentorship.

25 MDUSD teachers will join the Classroom Champions community of 225 teachers for the 2017/2018 school year.

In May, the teachers were surprised with a visit from local Olympic bronze medalist Kara Kohler, announcing their selection.

The schools participating for this new school year include Bel Air, El Monte, Fair Oaks, Highlands, and Shore Acres elementary schools, and El Dorado, Oak Grove, and Riverview middle schools.

As part of the partnership agreement with Classroom Champions, MDUSD schools will receive:

  • Teacher development and support, training, and materials
  • Family engagement support
  • Olympian and Paralympian mentor facilitation, including live video chats

This February, our nation will come together to root for Team USA in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. All of the MDUSD Classroom Champions teachers are paired with a winter athlete striving to earn a spot at these Games.

In addition to receiving world-class mentorship, MDUSD Classroom Champions students will have the excitement of cheering on and interacting with their mentors as they go on this incredible journey.

Carlo Valdes is the athlete for Highlands, Bel Air, Shore Acres and Riverview, and Tyler Carter will be the athlete for El Monte Elementary.

The other athletes have not been revealed to the schools at this time.

The athletes participating include:


Elana is a groundbreaking bobsledder who won a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games and a Bronze Medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Elana also won the first World Championship by a U.S. female bobsled driver and was the first U.S. driver, male or female, to win a two-man or four-man Olympic or World Championship gold medal on a non-North American track since 1959. Elana is married to fellow bobsledder and mentor Nic Taylor. She is thrilled to be returning to Classroom Champions for her sixth year as an athlete mentor!


Tyler Carter is a Paralympic alpine skier who placed 14th in the Slalom at the 2015 World Championships, and 26th is the Giant Slalom at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi. Tyler had been born without a fibula and had to have his leg amputated. While growing up, he played a few sports, but he fell in love with skiing after attending the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports camp when he was eight  years old. Although Tyler is relatively new to international competition, his top 20 finish in 2014 earned him a spot on the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team.

Tyler is thrilled to be returning for his third year as an athlete mentor!


At the age of three, J.R. started his journey into the world of speed skating. Over the years he competed nationally and won his first international medal at just fifteen years old. J.R. is a 3x Olympic medalist, a 2x Olympian, and a world record holder in short track speed skating. He exemplifies perseverance because  just five months before his first Olympics, he suffered a significant injury and nearly life threatening injury while skating, but went on to win two bronze medals.  J.R. is thrilled for his second year as an athlete mentor!


Born in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Megan was a World Champion in the under 18 ice hockey teams as well as a 3x IIHF World Champion. In 2012, Megan earned a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team and went to the 2014 Sochi Olympics — where she won a silver medal. As well as numerous titles and medals, Megan earned a degree in Sports Management from the University of Minnesota. This is Megan’s first year as an athlete mentor.


Raised in Newport Beach, California, Carlo Valdes is a 3x  member of the USA Bobsled national team. During his rookie season, Carlo  was awarded the USA Bobsled Rookie of the Year Award. Carlo  also helped 2x  Olympic Medalist Elana Meyers Taylor make history, pushing her to the bronze medal in the Calgary North American Cup race. During his first three seasons in the sport of bobsled, Carol    accumulated six World Cup medals and is widely considered a favorite to represent the U.S. at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. This is Carlo’s first year as an athlete mentor!

photos: (left): Tyler Carter, Paralympic alpine skier – (right): El Monte Elem. students about to learn the identity of their Paralympic mentor

Frustrated September 8, 2017 at 6:37 PM

Great to see so many positive things happening in MDUSD!

Ian Ricca September 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM

Why not Pine Hollow middle school? !!?

T September 9, 2017 at 8:44 AM

My son is beyond excited to be a part of this. It’s sure to be an experience these kids won’t soon forget.

frustrated September 9, 2017 at 9:27 PM

It is interesting to me that when something negative is written so many people have something to say. When something positive is published the number of comments is very small. I for one am proud to be a member of MDUSD!

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