Congrats to AKAHPERD teachers [Healthy Futures]

January 15, 2013

Polly Smith

Congratulations to 2012 AKAHPERD Teacher of the Year award winner Polly Smith. Polly has taught Physical Education at Chugach Optional Elementary for the last eight years. Prior to this she taught P.E. in the Christian school system for 13 years. Polly conducts a quality program as reflected in NASPE standards and guidelines. She also utilizes various teaching methodologies and plans innovative learning experiences to meet the needs of her students.

Polly writes, “Physical Education is typically thought of as a kinesthetic learning environment, and although I definitely teach through movement, I also teach through the six other learning styles: visual, auditory, verbal, logical, social and solitary. Teaching outdoors is one of my favorite classrooms because as students go through life they can always return to it. One of my most innovative lessons is my orienteering unit. After completing basic lessons in orienteering, they move into using GPS units and geocaching. Students learn to load latitude and longitude into GPS units and use them to find caches I have placed around the playground area.”

Polly’s commitment to the students of Chugach Optional extends well past the regular workday, with her coaching after school programs in X-C running, Native Youth Olympics, basketball, soccer, flag football and track and field. She also coordinates the annual North Anchorage X-C Running Jamboree, which has averaged 1,200 students in each of the last three years.

Chugach Optional principal Anne Salzer said about Polly. “I have supervised Polly Smith for seven years and continue to appreciate her skills as a Physical Education teacher and her dedication to serving the children in our school and in our school district. Her commitment to the children’s physical health is evident when the children greet her with smiles and confidence. Student who didn’t know they could climb as high or run as far, find that they joyfully reach new levels of fitness. It is Polly’s enthusiasm and her knowledge of the children’s physical development that allow her to be such a remarkable Physical Education teacher.”

Andrew Schweisthal

The 2012 AKAHPERD Teacher of the Year runner up was Andrew Schweisthal, a Physical Education teacher at Chugiak Elementary.

Chugiak Elementary principal Susan Hindeman had this to say about Andrew:

“It is a rare gift that one finds an educator of Andrew Shweisthal’s caliber; someone who is truly and consistently dedicated to our students. His enthusiasm is contagious and it is impossible not to get excited about the activities going on in the P.E. environment. Since his arrival here, our school quickly became known as a healthy, active respectful environment for all. He challenges, coaches, cajoles and nudges our students along until they are surprised and proud of their accomplishments. We are so fortunate that Andrew chooses to hang his hat at Chugiak Elementary, and every single student, parent and staff member is appreciative of all he does.”