The physical education teacher education (PETE) major within the School of Kinesiology and Recreation is nothing short of exciting and hands-on.
“Students in our undergraduate program are invested in making a big difference in the lives of children and adolescents that they serve in physical education in the communities in which they will work to promote healthy and active lifestyles,” said PETE Associate Professor Emily Jones.
Three PETE alumni, all who work in Bloomington-Normal—Bryan Schultz ’12; Kelly Gallick B.S., ’99, M.S., ’06; and Patrick Pommier ’13—returned to campus for the annual fall PETE major orientation night. While on campus, Schultz, Gallick, and Pommier spent time networking, answering questions, and providing current PETE students with essential advice for their educational career at Illinois State. Check out a recap of the most common questions that were asked of Schultz, Gallick, and Pommier.
How did you get to where you are today?
Schultz: Prior to teaching, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served four years. After my time in the Marine Corps came to an end, I came to Illinois State University to begin my path towards becoming an educator. After graduating, I began with McLean County Unit District No. 5 (Unit 5) as a teaching assistant in the specialized services program. The following year, I applied for physical education positions and was hired on at Pepper Ridge Elementary School and eventually moved to Oakdale Elementary School. I am currently taking graduate classes at Illinois State with the goal of becoming an administrator.
Gallick: My entire life I have been involved in sports, recreation, and athletics. The decision to become a physical education teacher was truly impacted by my experiences with sports and recreation throughout my life.
Pommier: My interest in teaching started after my first year of college. I knew the “desk job” professional setting was not the right fit for myself. I always had a passion for teaching and wanted to influence those around me. In order to put myself in the best position possible, I knew I needed to get my teaching education from Illinois State. Through hard work in my classes and guidance from PETE staff and fellow classmates, I graduated from ISU and found a teaching position shortly after graduation. I student taught in the Bloomington-Normal community and always knew I wanted to come back here. Luckily, a position in Unit 5, at the same school where I student taught, became available just a few years later. I soon joined the Herscher School District as a junior high PE teacher and today am teaching physical education at Grove Elementary School. In the near future, I plan to pursue my master’s at Illinois State in either PETE or exercise science.
How did the physical education teacher education major prepare you for your career as a PE teacher?
Schultz: The ISU PETE program definitely prepares future teachers to be successful. Starting from the beginning of your career as a PETE student, student teacher candidates get out into the schools not only to observe current PE teachers, but to interact and teach lessons in the Bloomington-Normal area. The amount of professionalism and pride that comes from being an ISU PETE graduate is surely noticeable.
Gallick: The ISU PETE program confirmed my decision to go into teaching. The classes and the experience outside of the classes (observations, co-teaching, etc.) helped prepare me for student teaching. The PETE professors were instrumental in helping me feel comfortable and preparing me for my future in teaching. They made every class an enjoyable learning experience.
Pommier: I feel the ISU PETE program prepared me to be the best teacher candidate that I could be. Through lecture, clinical experience, discussion, and live teaching, I felt prepared to take on my own students the day I graduated. I had the content and pedagogical knowledge that made me confident in myself as an educator. The ISU PETE program exceeds any other Physical Education program for three main reasons. First, the faculty and staff that you learn from and interact with each day are willing to go above and beyond their normal “duties” to guide and instruct each student. Second, every single class teaches you about a different aspect in the professional setting. You gain not only pedagogical knowledge, but also adapt your own teaching style through practice. That is the single most important aspect I gained from the PETE program. Lastly, the life experiences and friends you gain along the way are priceless as you build lifelong relationships and resources for the future.
Myth: Being a physical education teacher is easy. Truth:
Schultz: The classes that PETE students are taking are very challenging. First of all, students have to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body. PE class is one of the only curriculums that not only engages student’s bodies, but it engages their minds, and encourages sociological interaction every day. Each of our lessons works to accomplish a goal or work towards a standard. PE teachers are on the move all day, have to have great time management, and ensure the safety of students.
Pommier: PE teachers wear an abundance of hats each day. Not only are you in charge of children’s safety, social development, psychomotor progression, and cognitive development (just to name a few), but you are also an influential role model for each student you teach. Each day is different, which is why I love my career. With each new day comes new challenges, and a never ending cycle of work that pushes teachers over regularly scheduled hours on a consistent basis. It is not easy, but it is fulfilling each and every day!
What do you miss the most about your time at Illinois State?
Gallick: I miss being surrounded by people who are passionate about physical education and collaborating with those individuals on daily basis.
Pommier: I miss seeing my classmates each and every day. I made relationships that will last my entire life with some of the greatest people who share the same passion as myself. These people helped shaped who I am today. To this day, we rely on each other for whatever challenges life throws at us. Those connections can last forever and the people you surround yourself with in college will be the greatest friends you come to know.
Advice for current PETE students?
Schultz: Get involved! There is never too much that you can do at this stage in your education to gain experience and build relationships. You never know who you may meet now that could be someone you rely on later in education for advice or a career. And of course, have fun with everything you do!
Gallick: Really become invested in the program and what the professors are teaching you. It will truly help you in the end. Get involved. If this is something you love and are passionate about, stick with it. The PETE major will absolutely prepare you for a career in PE.
Pommier: Get the most out of every single class you take. Volunteer and get as much clinical experience as possible before graduating. You will learn from each professor and be sure to keep handouts and take notes. What you learn from your professors you will use in the future! Grow with each experience, be strong, and strive to become a better person in every aspect of life.