Elementary Phys-Ed Teacher Honored with Teacher Excellence Award
Cultivating healthy habits is essential to students’ academic achievement, and it improves their overall quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, students who are physically active tend to have better grades, attendance, memory, and classroom behavior. Physical education instructors are key players in helping students form these healthy habits, and Boyertown Area School District’s Mrs. Darla Lieb is committed to seeing her students engage with health and fitness. Her outstanding teaching and commitment to elementary physical fitness have been recognized by the Lancaster-Lebanon-Berks Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, which will honor her with its Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award on May 16 at its annual awards banquet.
Mrs. Lieb is in her eighth year in the District and serves in several capacities, including teaching first through sixth grade physical education and second grade health at Gilbertsville and Colebrookdale Elementary Schools. Her goal is to provide positive experiences for all, regardless of their athletic ability, social/emotional struggles, or physical disabilities.
Mrs. Lieb has been restructuring the elementary physical education curriculum to meet national and state standards. This curriculum focuses on a variety of motor skills and movement patterns and helps students understand how specific movement concepts and strategies can improve their performance. It introduces them to activities that will provide enjoyment, challenges, and self-expression all their lives. The grading rubrics address personal and social behaviors and emphasize self-confidence, good sportsmanship, and respect for others.
According to Mrs. Lieb, one of the best parts of her job is creating new and exciting experiences. She's developed several programs, including:
Kangaroo Club – a jump-rope challenge for first and second grade. The Kangaroo Club encourages students to practice jumping rope at home, at recess, and during PE class. Students who complete the challenge are recognized on the Kangaroo Club board and earn a certificate of achievement.
Traverse Climbing Wall – Last year, Mrs. Lieb worked with the Parent Teacher Organization, the Home and School Association, and the District to install an eight-panel traverse climbing wall in the gymnasium. She is currently working with teachers to incorporate the wall into cross-curricular activities and begin an after-school climbing club for students.
School-Wide Cooperative Field Day – This very special day comes at the end of the year. The entire school is divided into nine teams, consisting of students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The teams rotate all over the school grounds, participating in cooperative activities. Parents, teachers, and volunteers from the high school pitch in to organize and manage the activities. Students make friends in different grades and classrooms and spend time with a different teacher. Students and teachers all enjoy the day and their new friendships.
Mrs. Lieb also strives to create a safe environment for her students and act as a role model. "Students are like sponges, taking in everything I say and do," she says. She recounts a student who told her that her younger sister had started putting grapes in her water at home. When her mother asked what she was doing, she answered with, “Well, Mrs. Lieb always puts fruit in her water.” She had noticed the lemon slices in Mrs. Lieb’s water bottle!
Mrs. Lieb is a leader in many other capacities. She guides meetings and acts a liaison between the faculty and administration for the Elementary Physical Education Department. She mentors high school interns, new physical education teachers, and educators from neighboring school districts. She has served as a varsity volleyball coach. She even has a few clients as a personal trainer! She constantly strives to better herself as an educator by attending conferences, obtaining a master’s of sports science, and studying nutrition, exercise techniques, and wellness in her free time.
Congratulations to Mrs. Lieb!