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Name: Maria Niemiec-Martell
"Get Moving America" is a strategy I use to make students more aware of the importance of physical activity in their day, outside of school. Students go online and log their activity and minutes, which equates to points. We try to coordinate this with Physical Fitness Month in May. We also observe National Turn Your TV Off, and parents verify the student participation for both by parent signature.
We also invite our radio broadcaster from the "Detroit Red Wing Hockey Team" who comes to talk to our students about "peer pressure" by relating his own experience in high school. Mr. Ken Kal brings hockey posters for the students and also shares some of the neat stories about the individual hockey players and their training regimen.
I focus on the "fitness element" and making it relevant to middle schoolers, teaching students that fitness can be achieved in a variety of ways. Much of our curriculum centers on the healthy heart. My particular expertise is cardio vascular conditioning and its effect on the heart. After many years teaching physical education, I have found that the benefits of using heart rate monitors with the total population of students hav such a dramatic and lasting effect, not only to the accomplishment of individual goals but also to the feeling of success and self esteem. We also concentrate on the benefits "cardio" offers to the individual's overall health and well being.
I believe that physical education really needs to become a relevant part of each student's life in a way that they begin to see the relevance. My philosophy of teaching physical education finds its premise there. My belief revolves around just how relevant their education now is to their future health. Their healthy lifestyle habits formed or not formed will directly impact their future and their attempts in that future. I am not only in the critical position to influence their futures in a positive and healthy way, but also to help lay the ground work for establishing their commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle into adulthood.
My viewpoint of creating, maintaining and nurturing this relevance with my students, begins when the physical education environment respects the individual differences, shapes, and skill levels of all students. The environment is key, and it can either make or break the development of healthy lifestyles choices in students. My philosophy has included not only an awareness of my students' interests, but also creating an environment with choices which reflect those interests, and offering opportunities for realistic and measurable goals where students are evaluated individually.
To have been awarded Teacher of the Year means an array of emotion tied to responsibilities. To have such an honor means that your efforts in education, an education which is more critical to our nation's health and wellbeing, and more important than any other education that a child will receive, has not gone unnoticed. To be appreciated in such a way, especially by your professional peers is humbling. Although, it is a wonderful feeling on the emotional side, the emotional side is not what makes the lasting impression. To me, it is only that much more of a motivating factor to accomplish and achieve even higher goals.
I share my ideas as well as my resources with them. I have also given suggestions and ideas on what really works when writing a Pep Grant. I direct other physical education teachers to "key" links and to appropriate associations when answering questions. I have worked with other physical education teachers to assist them in advocacy and have even volunteered to speak at their school board meetings. Most recently, I have worked with another school district's fine arts director to help assist her efforts in writing a Federal Pep Grant.
"Mrs. Martell is my favorite gym teacher."
"Mrs. Martell takes her free time to plan fun and extra activities for us."
"Mrs. Martell really cares about the students."
"Mrs. Martell listens to us."
James Madison Health Institute, July 2009. This presentation was entitled, Cardio Calorie Basketball. I had forty-two participants who engaged in a novel way of tabulating the winning basketball teams, with the inclusion of heart rate technology. This presentation included not only the individual heart rate watches but also a laptop computer which had the capability to project their heart rates and have them displayed overhead all simultaneously. Participants' heart rates were visible as a class and various levels of intensity were able to be observed.
MAHPER Convention, Traverse City, Michigan 2002. A Panel Discussion: How to Write A Winning Pep Grant. All six Michigan Pep Grant Winners were featured and each participated in the process which awarded their school district a Pep Grant. I presented a power point presentation developed by my students on our winning Pep Grant, showcasing our new fitness room and exercise equipment. I also shared the techniques I employed in my writing process, including the research I completed. Discussion also included the importance of establishing a commitment from your School Board to set up policies to insure proper maintenance of the machines.
MAHPER Convention, Traverse City, Michigan 2000. Family Fitness Plans: A presentation on including family members in physical activity. Students researched the Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity. They then completed individual surveys on the benefits of physical activity separately from their parents. Each survey from the students along with their parents were tabulated and ranked and compared. This information was part of the Power Point Presentation, and displayed as the "Ten Top Benefits of Physical Activity." The students then designed a family fitness project, taking into consideration age, skill level, and parent choice. The family participated in this activity for three days, always preceded by a warmup and then finishing with a cooldown. The presentation also displayed the students' final project on poster board, including photos. An exciting discovery was a family vacation reunion. The trip was to an area where no other mode of transportation was permitted except bicycles, and this family project involved 13 members, even grandma and grandpa! (Grandma hadn't ridden a bike in over 20 years, but that did not deter her efforts).