POMARIA — Pomaria Garmany Elementary’s P.E. Teacher Joey Long was in for a big shock last week after being chosen as WLTX’s Teacher of the Week.
“When she walked in the door, I didn’t know what was going on. I was tremendously surprised and humbled. You work all of your life to make a difference, and to see so many people acknowledge that you’re making a difference in their lives, whether it be an athlete you taught 20 years ago or a second grader walking around saying ‘He’s my favorite P.E. teacher.’ just means a lot,” said Long. “The reward of my job is seeing happy kids going around and saying I made a difference in their life. I’ve always said health has got to be your number one objective, because if you don’t, you’ve got one body and you’ve got to take care of it because if you don’t it’s not going to last.”
It was a general interest in sports, working with kids and influences of a family of educators that influenced Long to continue working with kids.
Outside of teaching at PGE, Long also coaches girls basketball and varsity baseball at Mid-Carolina. Long also contributes to various recreational programs with coaching flag football for the Newberry Recreation Department along with helping with little league baseball.
In the classroom, Long’s main goal is to constantly have the kids moving and being active.
“I try to teach kids to be active and when they come into class, I want them up and moving. I don’t want them sitting down or have them listen to me talk. I want to spend less time sitting and more time moving,” said Long. “I try to implement activities where they are constantly moving and constantly getting their heart rates up and getting that exercise that they just don’t get everyday that kids need.”
Long said that he also tries to implement sport-oriented skills, following along with the seasons of sports and creating skills and games in conjunction with those sports. Teaching about healthy eating habits, how to read nutritional labels and learning about food portions are also implemented in the classroom.
“Hopefully kids are understanding that if they cut back on the junk food, their body is going to get healthier. We talk all the time about drinking water instead of soft drinks, so trying to get them to understand that in order to become physically fit you need to cut out some of the unhealthy stuff,” said Long.
But more than anything, Long stresses the importance of physical education for kids and giving them time away from a textbook to get physical.
“Kids need that time to get from behind the desk and move and not be in front of a book for eight hours a day. They need that break, and we’ve got to give them more time because we have kids that can’t sit still for 30-45 minutes at a time. They need that time in the gym where it creates that release of energy,” said Long.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.