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Name: Deborah Riga
Describe one or two of the newest and/or most innovative activities that you do with your students in physical education?
Creating obstacle courses that immerse students in brain-based comprehensible input learning is the most innovative activity that I do. The Heart Adventure and Digestive System courses are cross curricular and support previous learning in health and in science. The student uses all their senses as they move through these circuits. It's awesome to see students smiling, laughing, and learning while they participate in an aerobic activity.
What is your particular expertise in regard to teaching physical education -- what is the focus of your teaching?
Fitness is journey and not a destination and can be achieved by activities as varied as the number of individuals in each class. My expertise is in designing curriculum that uses a variety of teaching methods, using many learning styles and provoking thoughtful reflection in the teaching of the Health-Related Fitness components. I truly find pleasure in introducing students to new, innovative, exciting ways to interconnect fitness strategies and lifetime sports activities. I believe this empowers students to prepare for a lifetime of healthy behaviors.
What is your philosophy for physical education – what do you believe in?
I believe that EVERYONE can achieve some level of fitness. It is my responsibility to provide an atmosphere where students feel safe, comfortable, and confident enough to attempt activities. The students may then experience success. By presenting students with choices in skill and intensity level, I can effectively challenge the athlete and encourage the beginner. My job is to teach the value in a lifetime of physical fitness and activity for ALL. Teaching that includes the mechanical principles and efficient techniques will help students understand what it takes to become and stay physically active. Life is all about choices and physical fitness is no different. Students need to know about the videos and equipment (from heart monitors and pedometers to TAE BO and Yoga) that are available in the real world. I encourage students to journal or log their fitness activities so that they learn what works for them. I strongly believe that it is my responsibility to give students the tools with which to plan, organize, set goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Lifetime sports are also an integral part of my physical education curriculum. Tennis, golf, swimming, and roller-blading, to name a few, are a great way to build personal relations and socialization that is often lacking in today's computerized society. They also give an activity outlet to those students who are not fond of running or walking to get and stay in shape. I encourage my students to find an activity that they enjoy and pursue it whether it is alone, with friends or family.
What does being a physical education Teacher of the Year mean to you?
I am humbled to have been selected by my peers. This honor validates and lends support to quality physical education programming. With this honor comes great responsibility to become even more of an advocate for change in our profession and to promote quality physical education for ALL. This has personally been a life changing experience and I am proud to represent NASPE, AAHPERD, Sportime, Indiana, and my school district.
What do you do to help other physical education teachers plan and implement exemplary programs?
I provide leadership, not only for my students but for colleagues as well, by planning, aligning, developing, and implementing curriculum and assessments to meet state and national standards. I am a big advocate of giving back to my profession. I have mentored numerous student teachers (I learn more from them than they will from me), new teachers,and am currently mentoring a colleague through a graduate study program. At the district and state level, I share my enthusiasm and PASSION for quality physical education by presenting on a variety of topics at workshops and conferences. The willingness to share ideas is one way that we all benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.
Any quotes from students about you as a physical education teacher, or the classes taught by you?
"Dedicated… Motivated… Passionate… Strong… Caring… these are just a small handful of words that come to my attention when describing Mrs. Riga as not only a professional but as a person. Regardless the topic, regardless the situation, regardless the type of day, I know I can turn to Mrs. Riga for advise because simply that's just who she is, a person that people trust. She honestly is one of very few teachers that I know that can come to class day in and day out and be passionate about what she is teaching. Mrs. Riga not only sets the bar for how teachers should be about their work, but she sets the bar for how every individual should be about their life."–Jacob, student
"Mrs. Riga is a premiere educator in the High School World. She is one to never take into effect her own ambitions and wants, over those of a student. Mrs. Riga doesn't work necessarily for the paycheck. She works because of the love she holds for the students. Mrs. Riga affects students beyond the classroom setting, teaching not just physical education, but how to become a better person. She has been there for me in my times of need and one cannot measure the love and the respect I have for her. She truly is at a level beyond being a teacher; she is a great person and a great woman. The amount of debt and gratitude I owe Mrs. Riga is enormous and can never be paid back. High school is a small step of my journey in life. She has helped shape the person I am now and the man I will become. In each step of my journey I will constantly be reminded of the influence and impact she has had on my life. And I know, without a doubt, she will always be there for me." -Andy, student
"Mrs. Riga's class is AWESOME! She makes the class fun and exciting. She puts a lot of work into everything she does for the class. My favorite part of Mrs. Riga's class was all of it!!!! I didn't like swimming as much as I did everything else, but that's just because I really don't like swimming in general. Mrs. Riga plans out everything and then puts it altogether for the students. She is a really great person and a great teacher. As long as you are willing to participate, she is willing to help out. She goes to each and every individual student and takes the time to help you and even explain things to you. She is just a great person anyway you put it. I really loved her class and I especially enjoyed having her as my teacher. She's one of the very few teachers I know that puts up with everything she does, and still stays with her job! She is a great person, inside and outside of the classroom. The class is awesome and so much fun! I would say that she is THE BEST TEACHER EVER!!!! – Erika, student
"Ms. Riga is the most amazing woman alive. She loves what she does, puts all her effort into making things better quality for the students, not mention she is extremely big-hearted and caring….. Riga equals LEGIT!" –Allie, student
List three of your "favorite" conference session titles that you have presented, with a brief description of each.
Reaction Balls Aren't Just for Athletes
Just say the words "quick reflexes" or "quick reactions" and it gets your adrenaline pumping. Every movement sport requires them. Want your students to use the ready position? We'll take you through an entire lesson emphasizing the ready position using a multitude of activities with reaction balls. (gym – activity)
Agility, Agility, Agility
Add FUN to your workout with agility drills. Teach rhythm, motor skills, balance and coordination.(gym – activity)
THE FAB FIVE
The Health-Related Fitness Components lead to a healthy lifestyle. Come play and learn as we explore ways to engage students in the fitness components. Use portfolios to add accountability, responsibility, and higher level thinking skills. Add technology and you can get kids moving, thinking, and learning while having FUN! (lecture &gym -activity)
Any additional teaching awards you have received:
2008 Indiana Secondary Teacher of the Year