TOY Award 2020 – Jessica Dugan

Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year – Jessica Dugan

As educators we are always reminding our students to strive for their dreams, that the sky is the limit. I have been so fortunate, in my career, to have been given the opportunity to achieve my dream. Through my adapted experiences in college, Special Olympics, my 4 years as a general education PE teacher and various opportunities working with individuals with disabilities in life, I have been blessed to have found my passion and drive. As the Adapted P.E teacher for Brandywine School District I provide both direct and push-in adapted physical education services to my students. Majority of my students are included in a general physical education setting with their peers. I am constantly supporting and assisting my students, so that they are engaging with their peers, in a variety of physical education activities. During physical education classes I provide my students with adaptations and modifications that allow them to successfully perform the P.E skills and activities alongside their peers. Through environment and equipment modifications/adaptations I strive to provide my students with successful experiences. This may appear as a change in the space, rules, visuals, modifying equipment used (size, texture, color, etc), building adapted equipment that utilizes switches and power links, as well as anything that helps my students be successful! My passion and drive for what I do is apparent every single time I am in a physical activity setting with my students. It is an indescribable feeling to get to see and witness the excitement, pride, and joy of my students when they are participating and having fun with their peers during their P.E time. Being that I do a lot of work in the inclusion setting I am constantly trying to be creative and adapt the different activities, so that I am reinforcing the positive impacts of inclusion and acceptance. As an adapted physical educator I am constantly advocating for my students and doing everything I can to provide them with meaningful experiences throughout their time during different health and physical activity settings. I pride myself on my ability to build such strong relationships with my students. Physical Education and fitness is FUN. Regardless of my students abilities I want them to know that they can do ANYTHING, that exercise and fitness is fun for all! By building trust and a positive relationship with my students I am better able to understand and recognize their needs in providing them with an appropriate educational experience. I am constantly motivating and encouraging my students whenever we are doing physical activities. I am 100 percent the teacher that you can find right alongside my students, exercising and moving with them, cheering them on, and providing them with constant reinforcement to encourage, teach and motivate them throughout the activity. Being that I am in the inclusion setting I am also given the opportunity to be able to educate and inform other students and educators about disability awareness. I am forever teaching students and faculty that anything is possible for anyone and the importance of embracing difference. Throughout my time in the physical education classroom and on the athletic fields for Special Olympics, I am so fortunate to get to teach the importance of acceptance, compassion, and kindness among students and athletes. I love getting to show my passion and kindness throughout my teaching and coaching. It is extremely important to lead by example and showing others that we are all human. I do educate students in using “Person First” language. Educating them that regardless what you see that may appear different to you, we are all just people!