2014 Colorado Teacher of the Year Journey Begins
My name is Elizabeth A. Miner and I’m a full-time middle school physical education teacher at Fitzsimmons Middle School. I was honored with the recognition of 2014 Colorado Teacher of the Year in October 2013 and my journey began. I am married and I have an extraordinary two-year-old boy and another boy on the way in March. I spent my younger years living on the east coast and spent three years of my childhood in Thailand. The time I spent in Thailand gave me a unique opportunity to appreciate and value a culture that was not my own. From this brief experience, I learned that all people are valuable and that everyone, regardless of race or gender, has something valuable to contribute to society. This experience also gave me a sincere compassion for those who are not as fortunate to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities available in the U.S.
I attended high school near Washington, D.C. and I considered my graduation as something equated with “survival.” The high school I attended was plagued with the all-to-common social ills of drugs, weapons and high dropout rate. In high school, a teacher once told me, “If this is the ways kids are going to be then, I don’t want to teach.” The stress caused by student discipline issues took its toll on my teachers. In reflection, my four years in high school were the most difficult four years of my young life. I was on a roller coaster ride from being successful in classes to teachers just telling me to give up. I also dealt with death of friends who had lost their young life to accidents, violence and suicides. In spite of all this, I went on to accomplish my goal of playing on a NCAA Division One soccer team at the University of South Carolina. When I look back on my life I see where some of my teachers could have helped more and as a result, I have vowed to never allow a student experience being called a “failure.”
I’ve been fortunate to spend seven rewarding years teaching at Fitzsimmons Middle School in a mountain valley in Bailey, CO. Not only do I have access to a full-sized gym and a multitude of equipment, but I also have an amazing outdoor classroom! My students and I regularly enjoy hiking and bouldering on a daily basis. The atmosphere of Fitzsimmons Middle School is amazing – the people are wonderful and the scenery is breathtaking. My greatest love is the daily privilege I have been given to guide my students down the right path. I enjoy teaching them the skills they need to become successful, self-sufficient adults who live a healthy and active lifestyle. I'm unlike the physical education teachers that used to only focus on sports because of my focus on cross-curricular core skill development. I am as focused on reading, writing and math skills development as I am with the standards of physical education. I have created numerous engaging activities and new sports activities which results in increased engagement and achievement. During my instruction, I don’t waste a minute of time; I have established routines and efficient transitions and expectations. I regularly engage my students both physically and mentally. My effective instructional practices enable my students to improve their academic performance through the physical experience in my class. I daily encourage each and every one of my students to reach their full potential, no matter what their education or athletic skill level is. I strive to make sure that I address all of my student’s needs, both cognitive and affective. I entered this profession with a heart-felt passion to make a positive difference in the lives of each one of my students and my effectiveness comes from a deep joy that I receive from making a difference. I chose this profession and I choose daily to put forth my very best effort – after all, that’s what I expect of my students.
I look forward to sharing my experiences as Colorado Teacher of the Year with my readers on this blog. My goal is to give all Colorado teachers tips on how to focus on cross-curricular core skill development in their classrooms and strategies for incorporating physical activity to increase student achievement. For more updates, make sure to follow me on Twitter at @2014cotoy.