2023 SHAPE Delaware Physical Education Teacher of the Year — Connie Spedden from John R. Downes Elementary

I actively practice what I teach! In my personal life, I follow a five-day-a-week workout program and know the importance that both nutrition and sleep have on the quality of each and every day. My students are well aware of my vast interests in being active by participating in a variety of activities — like kayaking, mud runs, hiking, Tough Mudders, softball, traveling, bike riding, and walking my dogs, to name a few. The pictures and experiences shared with the students exhibit not only physical activity but also positive social relationships with colleagues, family, and friends.

With my passion for mental, physical, and social health, I’m always looking for new opportunities to help the school community, whether it be through community partnerships or my own personal coordination and organization of events. Because elementary school students are on a journey of self-discovery, they need to be exposed to and explore a variety of activities throughout the year. I teach my students to welcome new skills and challenge themselves to meet personal goals.   

On any given day, I can be found both instructing the students and getting involved in activities to demonstrate skills, enjoyment, perseverance, and resilience. Although the goal of the curriculum is to teach students the knowledge and skills needed to lead a healthy life, as physical educators, our jobs go well beyond that. We teach an array of critical-thinking and character-development skills. Lessons are designed with activities based on student interests and are presented with choices of levels, roles, and equipment. Skills and equipment are scaffolded and modified for ease of use or personal challenge. It is important to provide all students with a personal starting point, which helps build interest and confidence with each new experience. Sportsmanship, problem-solving, cooperation, and flexible decision-making are skills incorporated into every lesson.

I start each day with the positive mindset that my job is not only to teach the importance of fitness and healthy lifestyles but to ultimately help my students develop into good human beings! 

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