Rapid City Teacher of the Year aims to make phys ed. a habit - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City Teacher of the Year aims to make phys ed. a lifelong habit


Forget dodge ball and running laps. Rapid city's Teacher of the Year winner is making physical education more appealing for his Middle School students.

"A lot of people have a notion that physical education teachers roll out the dodge ball every day. That it's survival of the fittest,"said John Aldridge, PE Teacher at Southwest Middle School.

But you won't find any fear or hesitation at Aldridge's gym class at Southwest Middle School, as students are eager to conquer the basics of Archery. 

"I'm excited because I know whatever we do it's going to be really fun," said Logan Fischer, a sixth grade student.

A teacher who brings 34 years experience to the job, Aldridge tailors his curriculum to get students to develop healthy habits and hobbies.

"Mom and dad are working now, kids have to fend for themselves for what they eat. It is our job, our responsibility to educate them with nutrition and fitness," said Aldridge.

"We try to do activities like archery where it's less competitive, we do a yard games unit. We try to provide a lot of different activities to get kids interested," said Ketty Paula, PE Teacher at Southwest Middle School.

Throughout the years, Aldridge says the same life lessons always seem to find their way into class activities.

"There's a life lesson in everything we do. Patience, team work, tolerance. There's mentoring. those are all things any good employee would take to the job with them, that's going to be a service employers are looking for. I'm going to hire someone who's a team player, I'm going to hire someone who's healthy so they can be at work very day," said Aldridge.

With perhaps more patience than anything else, Aldridge has earned a reputation of making a once dreaded class fun again.

"He really connects with the kids on a personal basis. Shows them he cares about them, and they buy into it and they enjoy having him as a teacher," said Paula.

"He's trying to make us stronger so we can get to where we need to be," said Maria Rohrback, a sixth grade student.

"I never really did any middle school teaching. I was concerned it was a difficult age. But I came here three years ago thinking I was going to retire at that time. These last three years have been the funnest years of my career. It's been fun working with this level of kids," said Aldridge.

Aldridge was chosen from 22 local teachers to become Teacher of the year. He's also kick started a fitness program at Southwest Middle School that brings students in three days a week and engages them in early morning sports and cardio activities.




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