Hayes is December’s ‘Featured Teacher’ for Healthy Futures

December 26, 2013

teacher2013More than 150 schools and 10,000 elementary students around the state now participate in the Healthy Futures Challenge, a biannual three-month program to empower children with the daily habit of physical activity.

Healthy Futures, the signature program of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, would not succeed without its partnership with the health and PE teachers statewide that get their students engaged in the Challenge.

Healthy Futures will present a ‘Featured Teacher’ each month of the school year to highlight some of the innovative in inspiring work being done and get a glance at the personal side of some of Alaska’s outstanding teachers.

Name: Christa Hayes
School: Machetanz Elementary, Palmer
Position: Physical Education
Years as a Teacher: 13
Years participating in the Healthy Futures Challenge: 8

Question: Who is your hero?
Answer: My dad! When I was in elementary school my dad had put a hand full of candy in my winter jacket pocket and sent me off on my very first 5-K cross-country ski race in Minnesota. Even though I was at the bottom of the results I was hooked. From that day on my dad has been my biggest supporter in encouraging me to set goals, work hard, never give up, and to do my best in whatever it may be! With his support and encouragement I was able to get a full ride scholarship, travel the country, and earn a spot on the U.S. development team while doing what I loved. Now 18 years later I may not be as fast as I used to be but I still live by my dad’s words: Set goals, work hard, never give up and do your best in whatever it may be that drives you. I encourage my own two boys and all of my 400 students to live by them as well.

Q: When you are not in the classroom you are where?
A: Enjoying the great Alaskan outdoors with family and friends who appreciate this magnificent state.

Q: What’s the most inspirational thing a student has ever said to you?
A:”I am going to college to be a Physical Education teacher!” I have had previous students come to me and say that they are going to college to become a Physical Education teacher, a nutritionist or even a coach so that they can encourage, teach, and help kids become more fit and feel their best for life.

Q: What’s your favorite strategy for motivating kids to live a healthy lifestyle?
A: Being that positive role-model for them to look up to as an adult who is choosing to participate and stay active right alongside of them. One example is as their Physical Education teacher I participate in their physical fitness assessment every quarter right along with them and as a team we all sit down together and write new goals and improvement plans on how we are each going to improve our fitness level before the next fitness assessment. I love hearing and seeing excited students encouraging one another to beat their previous fitness levels! Healthy Future’s Activity Logs is another great motivator in guiding our students to live a healthy lifestyle. Our students evaluate and compare each of their monthly logs to see where they were active most and how they can improve from month to month to increase their physical activity level.

Q: Do you have any other thoughts?
A: I believe that physical education is an important and vital part of each school day for every child. I believe that we teach so much more in physical education than just sport skills, we teach life. We teach children how to be strong, how to take care of their bodies, what to put in it for fuel, and what not to put in it. We teach them how to manage themselves, body and behavior, how to solve conflicts and collaborate as teammates at many different levels. We bring into our gyms through music, dance, and games different cultures and countries. We teach diversity. We support reading, writing, math, geography, social studies and science through different lessons that we teach that uses those skills. We create emotional and physical safety nets where students are safe to make mistakes, to take risks, to do their best and to learn.