Top physical ed teacher tells of the joys of her job

  • Article by: EMILY JOHNS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 16, 2007 - 8:47 PM

Nancy Rud Gordon has worked in adapted physical education in Burnsville for 20 years. She is now the Teacher of the Year in her field.

For Nancy Rud Gordon, being the National Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year gives her the chance to tell others about the joy she sees in students' faces when they learn new skills and how to approach children with disabilities.

"Treat them like any other kid. If they fall down, make them get back up," said Rud Gordon, who teaches Early Childhood Adapted Physical Education in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district.

It also gives her a platform that she is not used to having: She will be speaking at national conferences all over the country, including in San Francisco next month.

She sat down with the Star Tribune last week to talk about her 20-year career in Burnsville and her new role as Teacher of the Year in her field. Answers have been edited for length.

Q What got you interested in teaching adapted physical education?

A I was working as an assistant manager at a health club in Rochester. I already had my physical education degree. A group of people from a group home could come to the health club to use the pool. And I just noticed they would free up when they got in the water. It was so difficult for them to get there, but once they did, it was like they were in heaven.

Q What is rewarding about your job?

A The fact that children, no matter what the disability, always exhibit some success. I had [a girl] who couldn't skip. We tried so many things, and then finally, she was able to do it. We called her mom right away. Then, when she learned how to ride her bike, her mom called me. People don't realize how fulfilled you get from small successes.

Q Why do you work in early childhood education? What is it about the young kids?

A I work with the youngest kids because I can still lift 'em! When children are so small, they can make progress so fast, things can change so quickly. One day they can't do something, then the next day, they can. And with the things they say and do, they're just so fun. ...

Emily Johns • 612-673-7460

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