Elementary teacher is state's top physical education instructor
Tracy L. Brady, Hartselle Enquirer
A healthy body fosters a healthy mind, and Danville-Neel Elementary School physical education teacher Teresa Brown has won an award for promoting both.
The Alabama State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance recently announced Brown as the recipient of the Alabama Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year award.
"When the kids are healthy and physically active, they learn more," Brown said. "That's what I'm here for."
Nominated by Danville-Neel Principal Jeremy Jones and retired Decatur City Schools physical education teacher Marcella Weems, Brown said she never dreamed of actually winning.
"What I do, I do for the kids, not for the recognition."
Known by many in the school and community for sponsoring workshops, volunteering with Special Olympics, acting as liaison for the United States Tennis Association in Morgan County, and promoting Jump Rope for Heart, Brown is probably best known for her creative and innovative approach to physical education.
"I transformed the gym into outer space with descriptions of planets, the moon and stars," Brown said. "There were 16 different space stations. One had a scooter 'moon buggy' to teach students about transportation on the moon through physical movement."
Brown has effectively incorporated reading, science, math, geography and much more with physical education by transforming the gym into a spider's web, an ocean, a jungle and a winter wonderland-just to name a few.
"Who wouldn't want to throw a fish ball into a fishing net compared to a plain old ball and net?" Brown said. "I guess my mind just works in a weird way, like with our Word Wall. Physical education is all about action words, so we use them and do them and then display them on the wall."
From decorating the school's new gym with primary colors for kindergarten students to painting a map of the United States in the gym parking lot for fourth grade students, Brown said she wants to offer an optimal learning experience and a lifetime of involvement in healthy physical activities for students.
"I don't believe in elimination games or competition at this age," Brown said. "My students develop skills and have fun, but they don't compete. That will come soon enough in high school."
Brown's students focus on motor skills, hand-eye coordination, mental and physical challenges, fitness, sports rules, and community involvement in conjunction with academic lesson plans.
"Students aren't human targets in my class," Brown said. "Research has revealed that the games most of us played in elementary school, like dodge ball and red rover, just aren't suitable anymore. Learning and exercising is much more effective and fun."
Brown began her physical education career in 1987 as a teacher's aid and began teaching full-time in 1992. She split her teaching time between Danville Elementary and Neel Elementary schools until the two merged in 1994.
She said the most exciting aspect of being named the Alabama Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year is being recognized by her colleagues.
"The acknowledgement that my program is a good program is the best," Brown said. "Being seen as a valuable educator, not a babysitter, by classroom teachers is the highest compliment I could ever receive."