Broadview-Thomson teacher named regional Middle School P.E. Teacher of Year

Broadview-Thomson teacher named regional Middle School P.E. Teacher of Year
Posted on 12/04/2014
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The seventh-graders in Shelly Ellis’ physical education class at Broadview-Thomson K-8 are being tested, but you’d never know it. The kids shoot hoops or jump rope while they answer questions about fats and protein.

To see what students remember from sixth-grade nutrition lessons, Ellis cues up her playlist of pop songs, hands pairs of kids a clipboard, and sends them to “stations” around the gym where Ellis has posted a question and an activity (e.g. “What kind of carbohydrate is in an apple?” and “Do one minute of bicep curls”).

“They have fun, but they are learning,” Ellis says of the pre-assessment as students move to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

It’s that sort of commitment to rigorous learning standards and student engagement that helped Ellis earn recognition as SHAPE America’s Northwest District Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

“Shelly is a rock star,” says Lori Dunn, the district’s Physical Education and Health Literacy Program Manager who recommended Ellis for the award. “We are lucky to have such a wonderful role model for our students, staff and community.”

The regional award was announced Nov. 21. Ellis is now eligible for the national award in March during the Society of Health and Physical Educators National Convention & Expo, which happens to be in Seattle this year and is expected to draw more than 5,000 P.E. teachers and professionals from around the country. (UPDATE MARCH 23: Ellis has taken the national top honor. SHAPE on March 20 named Ellis National Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year.)

Among many accomplishments, Ellis:

  • Goes beyond basic curriculum to challenge her students, with engaging lessons on topics ranging from muscle groups to bullying to nutrition.
  • Helps fellow teachers find ways incorporate physical activity. She has led staff development on how to provide “brain boosts” – short physical activities – in regular classrooms.
  • Forms community partnerships, such as working with REI to teach her students how to snowshoe.
  • Has identified relevant Common Core principles and helped incorporate them into physical education standards through her work on committees at both the state and district levels. (Ellis’ students read articles while speedwalking, for example.)
  • Serves as Broadview’s athletic director and coaches girls basketball at nearby Ingraham High School.

“She consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty,” says Broadview Principal R.J. Sammons.

Ellis says she is most proud of her work partnering with parents and her former principal to gain support for a health class for eighth-graders at Broadview. Health is not a requirement in eighth grade, but Ellis believes it’s crucial for that developmental stage. This is Ellis’ first year teaching the new class, which includes events like an upcoming “healthy snack fair” designed by students.

“I feel like that’s my big success story,” she says. “I’m very passionate about giving kids information about how to make good choices.”

Ellis rejects the old-fashioned P.E. approach that could sometimes seem like nothing but dodgeball and mile runs.

“That era of P.E. is gone, and it should be gone,” says Ellis, who cites a statistic suggesting that this is the first generation of kids who will not outlive their parents. “Let’s make sure that statistic doesn’t come true.”

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