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Name: Teresa Gump
Describe one or two of the newest and/or most innovative activities that you do with your students in physical education.
Perhaps one of the most innovative and certainly one of the favorite activities with my students is biking. Several years ago, I applied for and was given grant money and I also received donations from several very generous sources, including some from the local community. With that money, I was able to purchase 30 mountain bikes and accompanying safety equipment. I also have a tandem three-wheel bike and an adult three-wheel trike for adaptive activities for special needs students. Biking is one of the most popular activities for my students. After a thorough bicycle safety unit, the students are always ready to go.
Biking is certainly a non-traditional physical education activity, but it has great value to my students in that it promotes cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength and endurance. Another major advantage to the biking program is that it encourages students to incorporate biking as a life-long fitness technique, one of the major goals of any quality high school physical education program.
What is your particular expertise in regard to teaching physical education – what is the focus of your teaching?
The primary focus of my teaching is two-fold. First, I have an open mind and willingness to learn new techniques to make instruction more relevant and more interesting to my students. We live in a constantly changing world, and instructional content and methodology must also be constantly changing in order to help our students become more involved in physical activity and more committed to their own personal fitness long after high school. Why not ride bicycles in physical education class? Why not use Dance Dance Revolution in physical education class? Why not incorporate technology with the Wii in physical education class? These were questions I asked myself in my search for new techniques, and the answers to those questions are now part of my curriculum.
The second focus of my teaching is in meeting the individual needs of all students, including those with special needs. So much of physical education instruction is done in large groups, but as educators, we all must be committed to seeing the students not as part of the group, but as unique individuals. When the students first walk into the classroom, they come with varying levels of physical fitness and I try to keep that in mind as I plan instruction. Some come with minor or major physical disabilities and I try to keep that in mind as I plan instruction. I have worked with some who were blind or deaf and I have worked with one with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have modified their instruction to accommodate those disabilities. We must see students as individuals.
What is your philosophy for physical education – what do you believe in?
My principal mission as a Ripley High School Physical Education instructor is to promote physical activity as an integral part of my students' lives during and long after their years in high school. I aim to provide my students with the knowledge, attitude and skills to be active for a lifetime by promoting enjoyable comprehensive physical fitness activities for each student. At the center of that philosophy is a strong commitment to continuously seek out new ideas and methodologies for instruction and an even stronger commitment to seeing each student as an individual.
What does being a NASPE physical education Teacher of the Year mean to you?
It probably goes without saying that being named Midwest AAHPERD Teacher of the Year is a tremendous honor and a very humbling one as well. Through my affiliations with co-workers over the years and with professional memberships in several different types of organizations, I have acquired a great respect for those I work with at all levels. To be recognized by those professionals serves as an affirmation of my efforts at Ripley High School, and is a great personal reward to me as well. A second benefit to this honor is the opportunity it presents to call attention not only to the quality instruction taking place in American schools, but also to the importance of physical fitness for everyone. The publicity from local television and radio stations and from local newspapers has shed a positive light on education and on the value of physical fitness.
What do you do to help other physical education teachers plan and implement exemplary programs?
Over the past several years, I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to attend and to do presentations at several conferences and staff development meetings at county and state levels. There, I have been able to pick up new ideas, and to share some of my successes with other teachers. Most recently, I have been very involved in efforts at the county level to coordinate curriculum so that physical education teachers at all grade levels share the same goals and ideas. This effort has been particularly important in that teachers are able to coordinate their long-range plans to properly prepare the students for the next level of instruction. Being clear on short-term and long-term goals can make our county physical education program far more focused and effective.
Any quotes from students about you as a physical education teacher, or the classes taught by you?
Most of the feedback I receive from students is very positive. Comments such as "Wow! That was fun!" and "Can we ride bikes today?" are commonplace. Students appear to be anxious to come to class each day to see what is on the agenda. One of the most touching comments, however, was one made by the student who was afflicted with Juvenile Arthritis. He told his mother that he liked my class because he felt like a "normal" student. Remarks like these keep any teacher motivated.
Another comment came from a girl for whom I had written a letter of recommendation for college admission. She wrote me a very cordial thank you note in which she said, in part, "You have made a big difference in my life. Thank you for believing in me even when I didn't believe in myself."
What is your "favorite" conference session titles that you have presented?
Show Me the Money - A presentation on grant writing
Additional major teaching awards Teresa has received: