ABOVE: Tracey McDorman, a physical education teacher at C.C. Wells Elementary, instructs some fifth-graders.
Becoming a PE teacher was a healthy change for Tracey McDorman.
She is the physical education teacher at C.C. Wells Elementary, but McDorman started out teaching second grade at W.W. Gordon Elementary 12 years ago.
After nine years at Gordon, McDorman was ready for something new, but she was not sure if she wanted to do a different grade level. A colleague suggested that she would like PE because she had always been active with her classes.
McDorman has been at Wells for three years. Although she loved teaching second grade, she likes focusing on one subject and that she gets to teach all grades.
“I feel like I have a pretty big impact because I reach every child,” she said. “It’s fun to see them grow from the different age levels.”
Teaching runs in McDorman’s family: her mother and grandmother both taught high school.
McDorman said has enjoyed working with kids ever since she was a lifeguard at the Stoney Glen pool and taught swimming lessons and babysat for Stoney Glen residents. Kids gravitated toward her, she said, adding that she was able to make activities and learning fun for them.
Since she teaches classes all day, McDorman can see what works and tweak it for the next day. A good day for her is when students are excited about whatever is going on. She has stations so they can move freely as they complete their tasks.
“They’ll come out of class sweating, and we always talk about, ‘Did you work your heart today’ and ‘Build your muscles’?” McDorman said. “So just them coming in and having a positive feeling about physical activity and health [is great].”
McDorman was honored for her efforts when she was named 2018 teacher of the year at her school. She said it was nice to be recognized for going the extra mile.
She has implemented changes in the school’s physical education department, including programs such as Run Club, Jump Rope for Heart and Safe Routes to School, the latter which was funded from a grant that provided mountain bikes for her students.
McDorman said she sometimes jumps in and does activities with her students, which usually leads to her being physically exhausted at end of the day. Despite this, she doesn’t see herself switching back to the classroom anytime soon.
“If a kid’s really having a bad day, I give them a break [because] we all have bad days. I feel like I make an impact,” she said. “I know they love to come to class. I know they’re learning. I just know that the PE program has evolved so much … so I like making a difference in what I do.”