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Physical education teacher 'teaches the whole child'

May 06, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail is featuring one elementary school teacher each month through June. The nine-part series highlights excellent educators on the first Monday of each month. Coming in June: Winter Street Elementary School.

tarar@herald-mail.com

Carol Ganley's motto sounds simple: "Everyone does their best, but we realize that everyone's best is different."

But the Smithsburg Elementary School teacher says that philosophy plays an important role in her physical education classes.

Ganley said students who work hard but aren't as skilled physically may still receive good grades as long as they're trying their best.

"I don't necessarily grade on skill," Ganley, 40, said. "You can still achieve that grade that you want because you are working up to your own potential."

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She also said she emphasizes to her students to respect the abilities of others.

"I like to see the respect they have for each other, and they learn that they have to depend on their team to achieve a goal, not just themselves," Ganley said.

School Principal Ronald L. Ingram said Ganley's style helps set the foundation for the development of her young students.

"She just doesn't teach physical education, she teaches the whole child," Ingram said. "I think physical education days are important days to our children."

Ganley teaches physical education twice a week to students in grades one through five and once a week to kindergarten students.

Gym activities range from hand-eye coordination skills for younger students to sports and written tests in the higher grades.

"Most of my kids are really into physical education," Ganley said. "We have a good time in here."

She said the most challenging part of the job is to get students who lack confidence to work to their full potential.

"You always have the ones who are afraid to work up to their potential because they don't realize what it is," she said.

The best remedy for students who lack confidence is encouragement from the teacher and other students, she said.

"When I hear them giving each other encouraging comments, I make a note to praise them for that," Ganley said. "I praise them for praising each other."

Ganley said she's wanted to be a gym teacher since she was a young girl growing up in the Smithsburg area.

"I knew I wanted to teach physical education because I'm a high-energy person, and what better way to vent your energy than to teach kids?" she said.

She graduated from Smithsburg High School and enrolled at Hagerstown Junior College for her two-year degree. After that, she transferred to Shepherd College for her bachelor's degree and then moved on to Frostburg State University for a master's in elementary education.

She taught physical education at Bester Elementary School for six years before teaching at Smithsburg, where she has spent the last six years.

She and her husband, Steve, live in Smithsburg with their children, Shane, 10, and Cullan, 8.

"I hope to retire as a physical education teacher, as long as I can stay healthy enough," Ganley said.

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