Following a dream leads to national award for PE alumna
By Michelle Osmond |
June 15, 2012
Debbie Shortall, the 2012 Physical Education Teaching Excellence (PETE) national award winner and a Memorial alumna, knew from a very early age she wanted to be a physical education (PE) teacher.
“I was always active and in sports growing up but my PE teacher, Ella Strong at Morris Academy in Mount Pearl, was a very positive influence on me and the way she delivered the day-to-day PE program. The classes were fun but more so, she was fun. I wanted to be just like her.”
The PETE award is the only award in Canada that recognizes physical education teachers. It celebrates excellence in teaching and their ability to motivate children and youth to be physically active.
Ms. Shortall noted that, in addition to Ms. Strong, she had "amazing" PE teachers all through junior and senior high school -- including a teacher by the name of Lynn Vatcher.
“She pushed me in the right direction and kept me motivated and on track. She exposed me to competitive sport, believed in me and opened up doors that I would not have even opened myself.”
Ms. Shortall adds that Kellie Baker, a lecturer at Memorial's School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, showed her the ropes in areas such as assessment, the modification of programs and engaging students.
Ms. Shortall also says that Memorial University played a significant role in her career path.
“Throughout my years at MUN I participated as a Lady Sea-Hawks soccer player for five years and three years with the volleyball team. It was through involvement with these two teams that I gained confidence, friendships and a true appreciation of being and staying active for life.”
Knowing she wanted to pass this knowledge on to children and their families, she completed her bachelor of physical education and a bachelor of education at Memorial. For the past few years, she’s taught PE to Grades K-6 at Vanier Elementary in St. John’s.
"My memorable moments as a teacher range from students saying thank you and giving me hugs, to parents sending me thank you cards and telling me that the only way they can get their child out of bed in the mornings is to tell them that they have PE class that day," she said. "Receiving the PETE award is also going to be a very memorable one for me as well. Knowing that people recognize the work that goes into teaching and motivating everyone to get and stay active for life makes me smile, as well. It makes me feel that I have been doing something right.”
Memorial graduates have been winning the PETE national award every year since 2005.