Learn more about the 2020-2021 New Jersey County Teachers of the Year:

What is your name & job title?
Meghan Radimer – Physical Education and Health Teacher

Do you love your job? What do you love about it?
I do love my job–a lot. The atmosphere that I work in is amazing. Being in a smaller sized school is wonderful because you can really make connections with your students as well as your colleagues. I enjoy going to work, being able to see my students and teach them as well as having the opportunity to join them in activities. They make the day brighter. I am a very active person and on most days you will find me running around playing games with my students, not standing on the sidelines with a whistle. They often ask me to play with them as they enjoy the interaction, and–to be honest–what could be better than working together to beat their teacher in a game?

Tell me about your students.
As a physical education and health teacher I am very fortunate to be able to work with 8 grade levels of students. I teach students in preschool through 6th grade. For me, elementary school is the most fun age to teach.

Tell me about a project related to your work that you’re really proud of.
One of my favorite projects, and the one that I believe made the most significant impact on the school and community is the ‘APEX Fun Run.’ The Apex Fun Run is a program that came to the school to teach students that every child can change their school and the world in a profound way, and that encouragement and enthusiasm builds others up. APEX coaches visited classrooms to make short presentations on important values such as respect, teamwork, and sportsmanship each day. My role was organizer and coordinator for the event. I created daily schedules for classes to meet for their mini lessons each day, as well as the day of the APEX Run event. I made parent volunteers aware of the program’s expectations and helped to make sure everything was organized to make it an enjoyable day for all my students and the volunteers. On the day of the event, students run laps outside, which are used to raise money for our PTA through community donations. The event was an overwhelming success and we raised a significant amount of money for our PTA, which then gets used to purchase items for the school and students.

What is your connection to your union/local association?
For the last two years I have been Co-President of our local association and will be the co-president for at least two more years as I was recently reelected. I had been an active member of the union serving on various committees in the past, but as a Co-President, over the last two years, I have learned so much more about the role of the union, the importance of participation and leadership among our teachers and members, and how to work with our administration to make our school better for the students, teachers, and the community.

Why did you choose a career in public education?
At a very young age I knew that I wanted to become a teacher. I always had a passion for helping children, playing sports, and advancing my own physical fitness. As a teenager I volunteered to coach youth soccer and to assist with activities for the younger kids at my church. By high school I firmly knew I wanted to become a physical education teacher. I was a three-sport varsity athlete in high school and a two-sport athlete in college where I competed on the national level and to be an All-American athlete–I loved and lived athletics and academics every single day. The input and influence from several amazing teachers throughout my education guided me on the path to my future career. I knew I could turn the things I loved into a vocation where I could interact with kids, not just as an educator, but to share my love of sports and fitness to benefit my students in how they lived, interacted with each other, and felt about themselves in the classroom, at home, and maybe for years to come.

I chose a career in public education because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I had an awesome experience as a student myself and it helped me to realize that I wanted to go into a career in public education. A little fun fact is I received the perfect attendance award when I graduated high school for having perfect attendance all four years I was in high school.

Have you had a teacher or educational support professional who inspired you?
Throughout my lifetime there have been many teachers who inspired me. I had family members who were teachers or educational support professionals and they played a large part in inspiring me to become a teacher. My parents even worked in public education, my Mom as a school bus driver and my Dad as head of maintenance. Once I became a teacher I was able to work at both my own elementary school and high school for short times, where I was able to work alongside and be mentored by many teachers that had taught me.

If you had to describe public education in one word, what would that be?
Opportunity

I chose this word because I believe public education gives children so many opportunities. And as educators, we are on the front line to ensure there is an equality in those opportunities. Public education also gives us the opportunity to grow as a teacher–that may be challenging yourself to learn something new, or to take on a new project, or continue to find ways to better engage all students.

Public education is facing many challenges. One is the impact that COVID-19 has had on how we teach and how students learn. What have you learned about how you, your colleagues, and your students adapted to remote instruction?
We were all thrown a curve ball when COVID-19 hit, but I think we as educators took it in stride and embraced all the challenges we had to work through. I don’t think anyone could have been prepared for all of the issues and hardships we were going to face but all my students, colleagues, and the parents were able to make it work. Working with elementary students through remote lessons was a bit harder than other ages, as we need to try to keep them engaged. They love the interaction that they get with their teachers in person, and I love the connections I get to build with each of them. But we were able to think on the fly and try and come up with activities and lessons for students that worked despite the differences, and I think we all learned a lot on how we can improve as well.

As a result of George Floyd’s murder, along with other tragedies targeting Black people, more and more people are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. How has this affected you as an educator, and as a person, and how do you see yourself addressing systemic racism through your work as a teacher?

It was saddening to see these events happening, and while a relief to see so much public support and recognition of the systemic problems, it is still difficult to accept this is reality to so many. I think as educators it is important for us to be role models, students must see that we treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. We also need to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities whether it is in education, housing, or job opportunities. I think it is important for all students to realize that it does not matter who you are, we are all the same.

I think it’s also important for my younger students to realize that we all have something special that makes each one of us unique. The most important thing is that we learn to REALLY listen to each other and understand each other. And we must realize that our experience may be totally different from someone else’s, and their perspective may be different than our own.

I love to do cooperative activities in my physical education classes as I feel like this challenges students to work with other students they wouldn’t normally interact with. I use cooperative learning techniques in many lessons, as I believe Physical Education provides an ideal way to nurture not just fitness, but also the interpersonal skills they will use throughout their school day and in life outside of the classroom.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you would like to share?
I have run a total of 11 marathons including 3 Boston Marathons. I have been inducted into the Sussex County Sports Hall of Fame as well as the High Point Regional High School Sports Hall of Fame.

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