a community engagement initiative of Waverly Community Unit District #6
Ask Lenny Diggs about his hobbies, and his role as a Waverly Physical Education (PE) teacher immediately makes sense. “I’ve competed in bodybuilding,” says Diggs, who spends much of his time outside of the school day working as a personal trainer. “Really, I’ve competed in just about everything. I’ve won Mr. Kentucky one time, and I’ve won Mr. Illinois twice.”
Waverly's New Diggs
These titles pay homage to Diggs’ childhood days, which were spent in Southern Illinois’ Massac County and smack dab in between the two states. “Right down on the border—by Kentucky—is where I grew up,” Diggs says. “But my wife and her family—they’re up here from Virginia.”
They don’t have homework in my class. They don’t have to bring a book or a laptop or anything like that. As long as they show up, dress and participate, they’re going to get all of their points for the day.
Diggs and his wife moved to the Waverly area years ago, which is around the same time that he pursued a substitute teaching license and began dabbling in the world of education. And while he enjoyed his many days of working in various districts peppered throughout the southern perimeter of the state, Diggs was on the hunt for something a bit more steady. “I applied at Menta and got a job opportunity, and that’s really what kicked the whole thing off,” he says.
After spending five years working at the Menta alternative school in Nokomis, Illinois, Diggs was on the lookout for a new position again—this time, he was pursuing something that blended his new-found love of education with his life-long passion for fitness. He soon landed his position in Waverly, and he began teaching Health and PE to students in grades seven through 12 with the 2022-2023 school year. “We do PE every day,” Diggs says, describing the job that he has quickly learned to love.
As Diggs continues discussing his new position, he gives a nod to Waverly school administrators. “The administration’s buy-in to purchasing equipment and all that—not many schools are going to spend money on weight equipment,” he says. And as he walks through the school’s newly decked out weight room, he’s both excited and proud to show it off. “We got all brand-new equipment,” Diggs says, referring to the pieces he now regularly uses with his students. “Power racks—all the jazz,” he says. “There are dumbbells—all the bells and whistles. You name it, we got it.” And the best part is, Dr. Guerrero and her team were able to fund the entire purchase through a Community Partnership Grant, with no negative impact to the District budget or tax burden whatsoever.
Diggs continues talking about his new position in Waverly, now explaining the importance that physical education holds in the lives of his students. And while its list of physical benefits is both long and obvious—and often a positive result of all that new weight equipment—Diggs chooses to focus on the mental benefits above all else. “They don’t have homework in my class,” Diggs says. “They don’t have to bring a book or a laptop or anything like that. As long as they show up, dress and participate, they’re going to get all of their points for the day. It’s the only class where the kids get a break from the outside world.”