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PE teacher trying to keep kids active


Last updated 4/18/2020 at 1:19pm

TEXICO — Kristen Scanlan will take cabin fever over coronavirus any day.

But that doesn’t mean Scanlan, a Texico elementary school physical education teacher and high school volleyball and golf coach, isn’t frustrated with how this spring is transpiring.

“Yeah, it’s horrible,” she said. “You just get used to a routine throughout the year. You try to equip (the students) with some things during the summer because you know you’re not going to see them. But it’s strange to not be able to see them in April.”

Distance learning has become a new way of life for educators throughout the country due to COVID-19. It’s a transition for teachers of every subject — but perhaps even more challenging for those who teach P.E.

Scanlan teaches kindergarten through fourth grade P.E. at Texico.

With online links that come and go through the school principal, Scanlan has been able to connect with those students.

“I’ve given them some routines that we do once a week,” she said, “about six or seven workouts.”

Through the links Scanlan has at least been able to do some kind of instructing, though not the kind she has done for decades in gymnasiums and athletic fields. She said the first online link was just to reach out and let her students know she was there. A subsequent link has been about bike safety, another about nutrition.

“When you’re in your house, just lying around, you have a tendency to snack,” Scanlan said.

So via the computer, Scanlan reminds her students about how important it is to avoid the snack temptation and eat healthy.

“It’s good for all of us,” she said. “When I do these things, it’s reminding me too.”

Scanlan teaches her students about “woe” foods and “go” foods, terms that stand for pretty much what you would expect. “Woe foods are a lot of those things that kids like, the candies and the cakes and the sugars,” Scanlan said.

Go foods “are those things that fuel our bodies and don’t have a lot of fats and sugars.”

Scanlan also encourages her students to just be kids. Elementary-age students, after all, are usually perpetual motion without any formal instruction necessary. So, riding bikes, shooting hoops and safely jumping on the trampoline are all encouraged activities.

“Just whatever they have access to at their house,” Scanlan said. “Some of them live really close to the school so they can use the school track or the school playground.”

Scanlan, who teaches roughly 180 students per school day, said the students keep her energized.

“Texico’s very blessed; they really make physical education important. I’m really blessed to be part of that puzzle piece.”

As for her high school coaching, the virus hadn’t yet arrived in the fall, so Scanlan was able to guide her volleyball team to a sixth consecutive state championship. Her varsity golfers haven’t been able to compete at all this year.

They are able to play at Texas courses, which remain open with restrictions, but it’s not quite the same.

“I know it’s just killed them to not play together and not be able to compete,” Scanlan said. “Every day the calendar flips, I go, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re supposed to be at Lovington today.’ When you’re used to competing, it’s hard.”

Scanlan, like everyone, hopes we can get back to normal relatively soon. And she thinks some good may well come out of this.

“I think,” she said, “we’re learning not to take for granted those things that we really enjoy and really love.”


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