Following a dream leads to a national award for PE alumnae

The Mount Pearl native just received the 2012 Physical Education Teaching Excellence (PETE) national award. It's 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.

Debbie noted that all through junior and senior high school she had some amazing PE teachers, including Lynn Vatcher. "She pushed me in the right direction and kept me motivated and on track. She exposed me to competitive sport, believed in me, and opened up doors that I would not have even opened myself." She added that Kellie Baker, a lecturer at the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, showed her the ropes in areas such as assessment, modifying her program and helped her learn how to engage the students.

Debbie also says that Memorial University played an even bigger role in her career path. "Throughout my years at MUN I participated five years as a Lady Sea-Hawk soccer player and three years with the volleyball team. It was through involvement with these two teams that I gained confidence, friendships and a true appreciation of being and staying active for life."

Knowing she wanted to pass this knowledge on to children and their families, she completed her bachelor of physical education and a bachelor of education. For the past few years, she's taught PE to grades K-6 at Vanier Elementary in St. John's.

Debbie says she has so many memorable moments from teaching. "They range from students saying thank you and giving me hugs to parents sending me thank you cards and telling me that the only way they can get their child out of bed in the mornings is to tell them that they have PE class that day ... To the time I had a former student come to my office and tell me that they just started a career with the RNC and that I was the driving force for them to have the confidence to do so.

"Receiving the PETE Award is also going to be a very memorable one for me as well. Knowing that people recognize the work that goes into teaching and motivating everyone to get and stay active for life makes me smile, as well. It makes me feel that I have been doing something right."

Memorial graduates have been winning the PETE national award every year since 2005.