top of page

Grade School Teacher & American Ninja Warrior Competitor Jen Burdis Makes Exercise Approachable

Sometimes a spark of inspiration from the right person is all you need to take the first step toward a goal. And if you’re lucky, that person might be Jen Burdis.

The 43-year-old Rancho Santa Fe, California, fourth-grade teacher and former competitor on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior has been active her entire life. Whether she was slugging it out in Little League as a young girl, charging through high school as a three-sport student or playing volleyball at Penn State, Burdis is a natural athlete.

In The Media

Pink BEST.jpeg
PSU Teammates2.JPG

New Penn State women’s athletics initiative hosts 'Aspire' speakers event
'American Ninja Warrior' contestant and hedge-fund manager headline student-athlete networking program

Burdis, a Penn State volleyball alumna, author, educator and "American Ninja Warrior" competitor, will lead a “Mind & Body Habits” session in the Multi-Sport Facility from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

“I am looking forward to being back on campus,” Burdis said. “I am always trying to give back in every way that I can. Teammates For Life is something I support fully, and I am happy to help the women athletes in any way that I can.”




Award-winning Ninja teacher making a difference at Rowe

The Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association presented fourth grade teacher Jennifer Burdis with an Ovation Award at the Sept. 13 school board meeting. The award is a way to honor California Teachers Association members who have outstanding classroom programs that are teacher-driven, student-centered and focused on student, family and school-wide relations.


Burdis, a 20-year veteran teacher at R. Roger Rowe School, is on a mission to motivate and inspire others to lead a healthy lifestyle.


The former Penn State volleyball player was a competitor on season six and seven of “American Ninja Warrior” in 2014 and 2015. In her life, she has faced bigger obstacles than the physical ones on the TV show, such as overcoming undiagnosed dyslexia, gaining confidence to become a stronger learner and better teacher.

In The Media


Inspirational Teacher of the Month: Jennifer Burdis

Nutrition, movement and mindfulness are just some of the things Jennifer Burdis teach her students. NBC 7’s education reporter Rory Devine has the story.


Go PSU Sports

Varsity `S' Member Competes in American Ninja Warrior

Sometimes one Penn Stater helps another other without even knowing, and sometimes that leads to an exciting opportunity.

It certainly did for Jen Burdis.

A former varsity women's volleyball player who teaches fourth grade in Carlsbad, Calif., Burdis was home in Orwigsburg, Pa., last November, completing a workout in a local gym, when someone asked her about the focus of her training regime.

Ninja Warrior Happy copy 3.jpeg
schedulecard copy.jpeg

Burdis plays big on court


The majority of Lady Lion volleyball players are easy to pick out when they emerge from the team locker room in Rec Hall following a win.


But trying to locate Jen Burdis is not as easy a task. The Lady Lion back row specialist spends post-match time surrounded by tall friends and even taller teammates, making her 5-foot-2 frame as easy to find as a needle in a haystack.


But Saturday, that all changed. The No. 6 Lady Lions feasted on arch-rival No. 5 Michigan State, and Burdis took as big a bite out of the green and white as any. And 3,402 fans present had no trouble seeing her.



In the Media

Former Penn State volleyball player gives Norris teachers a push

It's a story about the positive power social media can wield, how it helps spread the message that physical activity, fruits, vegetables and nonfried foods helps kids learn.

It's about how Twitter connected Norris Public Schools Superintendent John Skretta to California fourth-grade teacher Jen Burdis, brought her from California to a school in the rolling hills of Southeast Nebraska to tell her story — and in the process convinced her she should write a book.

“You helped me raise the bar,” Burdis told an auditorium full of teachers and administrators at Norris this week. “You have a big place in my story.”

The 20-year veteran of California classrooms is a bit of a celebrity in the world of fitness and education, espousing the same ideas Skretta has been championing for years.

bottom of page