Three MCPS teachers have won Teacher of the Year honors from the Society of Health and Physical EducatorsMaryland (SHAPE MD). The trio—Cecilia Chivers, resource teacher at Paint Branch High School; Amanda Quay, teacher at Damascus High School and Jeffrey Watkins, adapted physical education teacher at Longview School—were recognized during the state convention on Nov. 11–12 in Ocean City. More details on each are below:
Cecilia Chivers was named SHAPE MD Health Teacher of the Year. In her 14th year teaching health education at Paint Branch, Chivers teaches inclusion health education classes with special education and general education students. “I want my students to see themselves in the curriculum and be able to integrate healthy habits into their lives immediately,” she said. To accomplish this, she brings in a variety of teaching strategies, creates a warm classroom environment and builds strong relationships with students. She leads students through 10 minutes of mindfulness every Monday and brings in guest speakers to reinforce classroom learning.
She has also served as a resource teacher for the Health/PE and NJROTC department for the past seven years, and teaches group fitness at the Merritt Club in Baltimore, offering a free fitness class for staff members at Paint Branch. “Despite the challenges that the pandemic brought to education, my career has truly never felt like work,” Chivers said.
Amanda Quay was named SHAPE MD High School P.E. Teacher of the Year. About five years ago, Quay started the Leadership Opportunity in Physical Education (LOPE) class at Damascus. This class includes typically developing peers supporting students in special education programs. The curriculum promotes disability awareness and equity while building community, and the program has grown dramatically at Damascus and in the county. Together, they created an environment that not only supports students in the School Community-based (SCB) and Learning for Independence (LFI) programs, but also provides an opportunity for typically developing peers to engage in leadership roles by modeling, assessing and modifying movement skills as needed. This cohesive classroom model teaches acceptance and responsibility and promotes participation from all students.
“When I first took over the Adapted P.E. program at my school, it consisted of two very overcrowded sections, limited support and minimum equipment,” Quay said. “I have raised funds and joined a local distributor to ensure that the students have access to equitable equipment.” A teacher for 15 years, she also worked with her colleagues to ensure more classes were added for a more individualized learning environment.
Jeffrey Watkins was named SHAPE MD Adapted P.E. Teacher of the Year. A teacher for 12 years with the last two in MCPS, Watkins’ enthusiasm for his students and school is unparalleled. On Twitter, he shares his innovative approach to engaging learners in the skills they need for success. He teaches adapted P.E. to more than 60 students with significant support needs. He uses a variety of assistive technologies to help, many of which he builds himself. He uses plastic tubes to help students roll balls, and leaf blowers, power links, switches and interactive green screen video to increase student engagement.
“I believe that any student can do any activity; it may just look a little different,” Watkins said. He helped plan a Longview TRYathlon, with students participating in a swim, bike and run/walk event, and started a Film Club, creating the first Longview movie using green screens. He is working with Longview music teacher Amy Gardiner to create music and dance videos for each classroom, which will be shown during a Longview video music awards event.