When Diane Wyatt started teaching physical education, it was all blue gym rompers for the girls and students were graded how well they did in team sports and their skills.
“Many people didn’t like PE,” Wyatt said.
Physical education has changed “tremendously” since she started teaching PE at Abilene Middle School in 2000, she said. Wyatt is retiring this school year as physical education teacher at Abilene Middle School.
“We want kids to enjoy PE,” she said. “The new PE is so much better than it used to be.”
The focus now is on participation.
“We don’t play dodge ball,” she said. “We want everyone to participate at their level.”
Dodge ball is out; students go roller skating and bowling and learn about heart-rate monitors and fitness. Instead of team sports, Wyatt introduces students to individual and partner activities.
They play games such as bag tag, in which partners try to grab a plastic bag tucked into the other player’s waistbands.
“They don’t realize how much they’re moving,” Wyatt said.
She taught in Hutchinson for two years before she moved to Abilene and stayed home with a baby for a while.
She started coaching and substitute teaching in Abilene in 1984, then took a job with Parents as Teachers for about nine years.
Wyatt came to AMS full time in 2000 as a PE teacher and coach.
She has coached basketball, track and volleyball in her career, retiring from coaching about six years ago, she said.
“PE matters because it’s your health, and that’s what your life is, your health,” Wyatt said. “It’s important to understand fitness at a younger age and that it carriers over throughout our lifetime.”
Wyatt would like to see physical activity start sooner even than grade school.
“I would love to see a lot of money pumped into early childhood education,” she said. “That’s where it all begins.”
Probably because of her experience with Parents as Teachers, she said, she would like to see more education for parents and a parent-educator at every school building.
Wyatt knew fairly early on that she wanted to teach, she said. She went to a country grade school with only two teachers, and one of them had a strong influence on her, she said.
“That’s what I always wanted to do,” she said about teaching. “Teaching PE came in high school.”
Highlights of her career have been winning the 2014 National SHAPE America MS PE Teacher of the Year and “being able to teach with really great people at AMS,” Wyatt said.
She also was named the 2014 Central District MS PE Teacher of the Year and the 2013 Kansas MS PE Teacher of the Year.
She’s retiring now because “I think it’s time. I’ve had a really great career, but it’s time to move to the next phase of my life,” Wyatt said.
Since she loves the mountains, she hopes to spend more time at her cabin in Colorado. She’d also like to spend time golfing and traveling, but mostly “whatever life brings me,” she said.
Contact Jean Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.