What do you do in Jeffco Public Schools? I am the district’s adapted physical education coordinator and I also coordinate adapted athletic events. I work with all the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Deaf …
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What do you do in Jeffco Public Schools?
I am the district’s adapted physical education coordinator and I also coordinate adapted athletic events. I work with all the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Deaf and Heard of Hearing and Significant Sport Needs programs elementary through high school. There are over 40 schools that I have and I go to 33 a week. On top of that I’m at the disposal of all 154 schools. There are quiet a few schools in Jeffco that don’t have a program but have one student who needs additional supports, so I go help the general education teacher.
What is adapted physical education?
Adapted physical education is modifying and looking at the curriculum that teachers are teaching. We also then look at the standards for Colorado and how that can best be met through modification or accommodations so that the student can be successful in a general education PE class. I do small groups with students and we work on what they are doing in class. It’s more of a direct service. We’re trying to provide that extra time on-task so that when they go back to their general education PE class, they are successful. That’s one model. Then there’s the collaborative model. I’ll come in and work side-by-side with the PE teacher and figure out how to best support those students so they are successful during their PE time. Maybe it’s changing the ball or the size of the racket. Or it’s changing the size and speed of the equipment. Or maybe it’s bringing in an adapted basketball hoop or a piece of equipment so the students in the wheelchair can participate. We’re looking at all the different curriculum areas throughout the year and making it so the child can be successful. We want to instill that lifetime physical activity. We all need to move and have fun so finding what that is for those students is the fun part of the job.
How did you get to Jeffco schools?
This is my 30th year in education and I still love getting up every day and going to work. It’s truly my passion — seeing the smiles on students faces. I’m originally from Fargo, North Dakota. I went to undergrad there. Then when I lived in California, I got my adapted PE specialist credential. I taught out there for 17 years. In 2006, I was hired by Jeffco Public Schools. We all have disabilities. Some are more pronounced than others. So my job is really focusing on that students’ ability and not their disability and asking them what they want to do and making sure they have a voice. I’ve coached at high school and college, but adapted physical education is more rewarding than anything I’ve done. I truly love working with the students. I know 30 years seems like a long time, but I just love it so much that I never dread going to work.
What does it mean to be the Adapted PE Teacher of the Year?
I was awarded the 2019 Society of Health and Physical Educators Adapted PE Teacher of the Year. It’s very humbling. What I do is for the students. It’s not anything for me. Yes, it’s an honor, but it’s really about seeing their smiles.
It’s when they come up and give you a high five. That’s what it’s truly about — those day-to-day relationships.
I think the relationships that are developed are so important. Not just with the students, but with the staff at the schools — all the way from the office staff to the PE teachers to the para-educators. We’re all one big team working together to help students. Why we’re in education is for the students. Specifically what I do is to provide that opportunity for them to be successful and then also to focus on what they can do. Just because a students is in a wheel chair, doesn’t mean they can’t do something. We’re all capable.
I just love my job.
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