Leah Lazarde, a sixth grader at Carlos E. Haile Middle School, watched the soccer ball like a hawk.
As students moved the ball down the field, Lazarde followed.
When a student kicked the ball out of bounds by the goal, Lazarde blew the whistle and called for a corner kick.
“I love my job,” Lazarde said as play resumed.
Lazarde was a physical education teacher Nov. 17 during Haile’s Teacher Shadow Day.
She took over the responsibilities of P.E. teacher Bet Tracy, and she learned being a P.E teacher isn’t as easy as it seems.
Lazarde had to learn the signals to be able to be a referee for a game of "gator ball." She had to learn how to diffuse any arguments while also learning how to encourage students to give it their all and display good sportsmanship.
Tracy loved the enthusiasm Lazarde displayed during her time as the P.E. teacher.
“(Teacher Shadow Day) wasn’t just an opportunity to get out of class,” Tracy said. “She’s really taking it seriously. It makes my heart smile.”
Tracy said Lazarde is perfect for being a P.E. teacher.
Lazarde wanted to shadow Tracy because gym class is one of her favorites. She wants to pursue a career in education with the goal of becoming a principal.
Tracy said the key to being a P.E. teacher is organization whether that involves the space where students will play or scheduling the games.
“I try to have fun games that everyone can participate in,” Tracy said.
She tries to find games that are fun for any type of student whether they like to play sports or dread participating in any type of sports related activity.
She’ll incorporate the traditional sports into her lessons but also brings in different games such as gator ball and tchoukball. They’re both team sports that combine traditional sports.
“I’m not just a roll-out-the-ball teacher,” Tracy said. “I like to see them engage and have fun. I promote sportsmanship, too. I don’t allow any of my kids to trash talk. I try to promote a fun, healthy environment that’s not just for the athletes.”
Tracy stood on the sidelines and encouraged students to spread out during a game of gator ball and reminded Lazarde of the hand signals for different calls in the game.
Not only is gator ball a favorite of students, but Tracy enjoys seeing students play the game as well.
“It’s so engaging to everybody,” she said. “This game is easy to play and easy to learn for all skill levels. Football players love it. Soccer players love it. Softball players love it. It’s definitely a game for everybody. I’ve been playing this game for 20 years.”
Her most rewarding teaching moments are when students who aren’t competitive have a little success.
“It’s when we do fitness testing and run the mile and kids shave a minute off their time,” Tracy said. “It’s my kids encouraging each other to do better.”
Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.