In the fall of 2015, I began teaching Physical Education (PE) at The Meadowbrook School in Abington Township. The Meadowbrook School, founded in 1919, is a quaint community school that prides itself on great academics, small class size, individual attention for students and a dedicated faculty.
To be honest, my ego had a hard time telling people what I was now doing three days a week. The words, "I'm a gym teacher," didn't roll off my tongue with pride when people asked me "What's new?" Instead I led with, "I teach at the Meadowbrook School," but that often begged the question, "What do you teach?"
To reconcile for myself, I began thinking about role models to ease my discomfort. I quickly thought of Mr. Plunkett, a Chestnut Hill Academy legend who spent his entire career teaching 'gym' to Pre-K to fifth graders. Mr. Plunkett left this earth several years ago, a funeral experience unlike no other I have ever experienced. The entire CHA community packed the small Jenkintown Catholic church, and spilled onto the blocked-off Jenkintown street as the bagpiper played. What a scene! What a life that was lived, I thought!
I quickly began to realize that the work that I was doing was meaningful, challenging and highly rewarding. I realized that If Mr. Plunkett wasn't "too big" for the job, then I wasn't either. The job, as I now know it, is to figure out what is the best way to reach each child and break through their shields of fears, anxieties, and insecurities.
My son, RIchie, is in his first year of Kindergarten at Enfield Elementary in Oreland, PA. He is fortunate to have Mr. Ryan Berger as his teacher, the only male Kindergarten teacher. My wife and I are so happy that Richie is thriving at his new school and he looks forward to getting on our local bus each day! I recently learnd that Mr. Berger can hit a softball that can almost touch the moon.
I am really glad the Mr. Berger had role models who shaped him, for he now serves as my son's teacher and model for both strength, kindness, and empathy. I am also thankful for having had Mr. Plunkett in my life and think about him often.