LA Kings February Teacher of the Month!
Hughes Middle School, Long Beach Unified
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I was born in Roodepoort, South Africa. At a young age, it looked like soccer would be the sport of choice, since that was very popular in South Africa and my father had played soccer all his life. But I soon found Basketball to be my passion and I competed with all my effort with my two older brothers. I tall for my age and awkward, struggling to keep up and improve. I continued to work hard to improve through high school, eventually getting the opportunity to play basketball at Goldenwest College. During this time it started to become apparent that I wasn’t at the level to play professional basketball, so I would need to make a life plan. I started working for a local recreation department as a coach and camp counselor and found that I really enjoyed working with kids and being active. I was enrolled in college but had not yet chosen a career. I considered recreation but realized that if that were my career I would end up working in an office supervising the counselors (while they had all the fun). That’s when I realized that the perfect career for me would be: Physical Education Teacher! I have been teaching now for many years throughout Long Beach. I have coached and worked with many age groups and have settled in to Hughes Middle School as a 6th grade PE teacher, now on my fifth year.
What has been your most memorable moment as a teacher?
I had a sixth grade student once who became aware that I was going to be running the Long Beach Marathon at the end of the year. Despite being a beginner in terms of distance running, he trained hard and announced that he would also be running it. He became the inspiration of the school! The day of the race I met up with him to run a bit together and he introduced me to his father who was also there for the marathon. His father, however, was going to do the marathon in his wheelchair! Both he and his father were so thankful to me for my encouragement and I was speechless. I still stay in contact with this student and his father to this day.
What is your favorite part of Future Goals and how are you using it in your classroom?
Future Goals has been exactly what I was looking for in the virtual learning environment. The interactive games and activities which it offers have re-energized my classes at just the right time. It also gives me an opportunity to have more one-on-one interactions with the students as everyone works independently. It has also given me my first opportunity to teach my students about Hockey, as this is not typically part of the curriculum.
What was your student’s reaction to the program?
My students are very excited about the course, as they have been asking for more interactive and interesting lessons.
Who is your favorite hockey player?
My favorite NHL player ever is “The Great One” Wayne Gretsky for obvious reasons. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I have been very spoiled to be able to cheer for all-time greats on my local teams (Kings, Lakers, Dodgers, Raiders). My current favorite would have to be Anze Kopitar for his all-around skill on both defense and offense.