As a physical education teacher at McNinch Primary School, Ashley Doty said her favorite part of being an educator is watching students experience the joy of moving and learning how it can keep their bodies healthy and strong.
“My favorite moments with students are watching them learn how to jump rope in kindergarten (usually very slow!) and watching how their mind and muscles develop by second grade to perform consecutive jumps at a faster pace,” Doty said. “A new favorite moment is teaching kindergarteners how to ride bikes! Some already know how to ride a pedal bike, but many don’t. The All Kids Bike Program using Strider Bikes allows students to strengthen their balance and coordination without training wheels and pedals. Once students can pass a skills test using the balance bike, then pedals can be added.”
The students are not the only ones who enjoy movement and physical activity. After enjoying years of teaching dance and tumbling lessons through her own high school experience, Doty said she knew she wanted to pursue a career in physical education to continue to teach students the benefits of physical activity and instill lifelong, healthy habits.
“A day of physical education with kindergarteners, first, and second graders starts with students creating shapes with their bodies, an engaging warm-up activity and a brief round of “What muscle am I strengthening?” exercises,” Doty said. “Next, students practice a skill from whichever unit we are currently working on and then apply it in an activity or game. Finally, students cool down with stretches, calming breaths and answer a review question.”
When asked what makes a successful educational experience, Doty said she believes it is providing support in educating the whole child.
“If I could teach my students one thing, it would be to continue to strengthen balance, agility, coordination and climbing skills. We would love to expand our small climbing wall with low-ropes course elements, indoor monkey bars and Ninja Warrior elements.”
With celebrations of May’s Physical Fitness and Sports Month underway, it’s important to take time to recognize these commonly overlooked educators.
“Recognizing educators and coaches during this time celebrates what quality physical education and coaching programs look like, and how these programs develop and support physical literacy in students.”
A member of SHAPEWV and SHAPE America, Doty lives with her husband and two cats in Ohio where they enjoy numerous outdoor activities and working on their new home.