No child left on their behind

Jan Gleich, a P.E. teacher at Ridgetop Jr. High shows a pin with her slogan on it. - Photo by Celeste Cornish
Jan Gleich, a P.E. teacher at Ridgetop Jr. High shows a pin with her slogan on it.
— image credit: Photo by Celeste Cornish

The gymnasium at Ridgetop Junior High School was a hubbub of activity Monday morning as the children learned the fundamental skills of volleyball. Spurred on by their enthusiastic teacher, Jan Gleich, the children spent a few minutes at each station to work on bumping, digging, spiking and serving the ball.

Even though she is outnumbered about 30 to 1, the kids don’t stand a chance: They are going to sweat. And, at the end of the class, she assigned homework and reminded the students to keep up their activity logs.

Homework and writing assignments — for PE. Gleich takes physical education very seriously. So seriously that she recently earned some welcome attention at the Washington State Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance annual conference on Oct. 22 in Pasco. Gleich was named the middle school physical education teacher of the year.

“I’m just so happy about it,” said the 30-plus year veteran of the gymnasium. “I’m still about 10 feet off the ground.” Ted Vaughn, a PE teacher at Olympic High School and a past recipient of the same award on the high school level, nominated Gleich for the award.

Gleich followed in her mother’s tennis-shoe footprints by becoming a PE teacher. Her mother taught junior high school PE and taught her first 1928. Gleich began teaching in 1967 and she is amazed at how much the PE classes have changed. In 1967, women teachers taught girls and men teachers taught boys and the classes were very team-sport oriented. Now, the classes are co-ed and the emphasis is more on making healthy choices.

Gleich thinks she won the award because she isn’t afraid to take chances in the classroom to keep things interesting for the children.

“I think I was chosen because I really have a passion for teaching physical education,” she said. “I enjoy teaching it and I work really hard at refining it. I don’t just teach the same lessons every year.”

If she does feel like she’s stuck in a rut, she can bounce ideas off her husband, Al, a former PE teacher who is the athletic director for the North Kitsap School District.

Each year, WAHPERD chooses a physical education teacher of the year at the elementary, junior high school and high

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