By Michelle Osmond
Charlene Shears (PE '92) is passionate about getting kids moving.
Ms. Shears is a K-12 physical educator at Gros Morne Academy in Rocky Harbour and, according to those around her, works tirelessly to meet the needs of her students.
Recently, Ms. Shears was presented with the Physical Education Teaching Excellence (PETE) Award from Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada at a national conference. She’s the eighth national winner in the last nine years from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ms. Shears develops the physical education (PE) curriculum. She also runs before-school programs and supervises and coaches many curricular and extra-curricular programs.
“Our objective is to promote fitness and activity such that children will incorporate it into their daily lives. Activities have to be simple and fun with focus on moving 100 per cent of the time.”
Ms. Shears does the usual, traditional activities like volleyball, basketball and badminton, but she’s also taught winter camping, survival, wrestling and kayaking.
“I also like to throw in a few surprises when I can, like workshops offered by professionals in the field, such as cheer, karate, juggling, hip hop, etc.”
Ms. Shears attends all of the workshops she organizes in order to learn new ideas and activities, which she says she puts to immediate use in the classroom. Her love of outdoor activity -- and location -- has also motivated her to create outdoor lessons for her students.
“I take advantage of living in Gros Morne National Park in helping students stay active and I feel that outdoor life is very important in a child's health and development,” she said.
With the help of community organizations, this has led to programs like avalanche awareness, hiking, playground and field development, and vegetable beds.
“I feel that teachers play a great role in molding children into successful citizens. In particular, PE assists in the development of the whole child,” said Ms. Shears. “I love seeing the joy on children's faces when they are moving. It’s important for the teacher to have fun with their students too.
“With the recent surveys of obesity and inactivity in youth, it is essential to provide more active opportunities at school. If our youth were more active, one would see an improvement in grades, reduction in stress, healthy weight management and less burden on our health-care system.”
Ms. Shears also believes that PE should extend to families so the activities children learn can continue at home, not just in school.
The PETE award is the only award in Canada that recognizes physical education teachers, celebrating excellence in teaching and their ability to motivate children and youth to be physically active. Ms. Shears was awarded a plaque, a $500 gift certificate from Wintergreen and an all expense paid trip to the next PHE Canada national conference in Winnipeg, Man.