Sheila Peterson, a 17-year teacher and member of North Dakota United and the Bismarck Education Association, was given a special jacket commemorating her win of the NDSHAPE Middle School Physical Education (P.E.) Teacher of the Year award in front of her sixth-grade students at Wachter Middle School in Bismarck on Friday morning.
The Wachter gymnasium was filled with high energy as both students and staff awaited the special presentation. This energy was heightened as students laughed and cheered for some of their teachers who played a quick game of “Lightning” beforehand, to distract Peterson from the surprise award ceremony that was being set up on her behalf.
Presenting the jacket to Peterson was fellow middle school P.E. and health teacher, Leah Wheeling, from Simle Middle School.
“I want you to be super proud of her, because she is a fantastic P.E. teacher,” Wheeling said, addressing the students and all who were there. “We have this awesome jacket for her to wear. The patch says ‘P.E. Teacher of the Year’ on it and recognizes her great accomplishment.”
In order to be eligible for an NDSHAPE award, the individual must be a member of NDSHAPE – North Dakota Society of Health and Physical Educators. Nominations come from school districts. The teachers chosen to represent North Dakota move on to compete at the district level, and if they win there, they have a chance to go on to the national level.
“It feels really nice to be recognized,” Peterson said. “It always feels great to know that your peers think highly of you, and it kind of makes you feel like you’re on the right track and doing the right thing.”
Of course, Peterson spoke very highly of her students and how they have helped her get to this point in her career.
“My students definitely motivate me because I want to create kids who are lifelong movers, so I want to provide them with a variety of activities,” she said. “I have fun because my kids know how to motivate me now, and they come in asking me, ‘What are we going to do today?’ I think they’re expecting me to always come up with something new,” she laughed.
Being a P.E. teacher for 17 years, Peterson certainly has wisdom to pass on to other P.E. teachers who may be trying to achieve what she has achieved.
“Have fun with [your students],” she said. “I think just teaching kids that this is a place to relieve stress and anxiety. It’s a time to be with their friends and to laugh and to move, so that they find movement fun and enjoy their time with one another. The most important thing is just to make sure they’re having a good time.”