Danita Tanzer takes physical education very, very seriously
Tanzer has taught physical education and health at Abilene High School for 23 years, since the fall of 1996. She’s coached volleyball twice and was the interim softball coach once, but “I was hired to teach,” she said.
“High school is the start of when people are going to have to make exercise and health decisions on their own,” Tanzer said.
“With the online virtual society, it’s even more important. It’s critical to the health of the country.”
Kids aren’t outside as much these days, she finds.
Before technology, kids would go out and find pick-up games, Tanzer said. She doesn’t see that happening now.
“When Mom said go outside and play, you went outside and played,” Tanzer said
Children learned where the safe boundaries were, she said.
Some students do seem tethered to their cellphones, she said. Most of them leave the phones on the bleachers or on her cart, but some keep them in their pockets during class so they can tell what time it is, they tell her. She tells them they could just ask her for the time.
Technology has changed PE significantly and how she does her job, she said. When she started at AHS, she shared a computer with another PE teacher. Now everyone has their own computer and everything is on it: attendance, grades and forms.
There are lots of forms to fill out and lots of meetings to attend now that take time from actually teaching. It also seems to her that teachers have to do more “parenting” than they used to.
Tanzer sees a lot of disparity in students’ economic situations. Some work five to six hours after school, and others drive a brand-new pickup truck to school every year, she said.
“We do everything to make sure these kids succeed,” Tanzer said.
One highlight of her teaching career is when she sees kids get what she is trying to teach, when they realize it’s more than just fun-and-games.
“The AHS staff is another highlight,” Tanzer said.
“They’re my friends and second family,” she said.
What would she change, besides the effect of technology on fitness, if she could?
“I would like to see uniforms,” Tanser said.
Not all students dress appropriately for school, she said. Sometimes shorts are too short and too much skin shows, she said.
Tanzer started her teaching career at the Youth Center in Beloit from 1985-87, then took a break before coming to Abilene.
She holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in technology.
What attracted her to the job at first were the hours and the fact the job was nine months of the year and she’d always enjoyed sports and activities.
She’s retiring now, she said, because, “I want to play until I die. If you don’t retire when you can, you work until you die.”
And, she said, she’s tired. She’s had two kidney transplants and her suppressed immune system wears on her health and drains her energy, she said.
She’s looking forward to having no time restraints, staying up past 8:30 p.m., and enjoying crocheting, sewing, cooking and travel.
Contact Jean Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.