By Max Tracey ‘19, News Editor
When Ms. Kathleen Brophy first entered Wellesley High School in 2007 as a fitness and health teacher, she never thought that she would be recognized as a regional stand-out in her field of education. Fast-forward nine years later, and that has become her reality.
In late March, SHAPE America (Society of Health and Physical Educators) named Brophy the Eastern District High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year. The Eastern District consists of the eleven states ranging from Maryland to Maine, as well as Washington D.C. the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
According to a press release by SHAPE, the award recognizes “outstanding teaching performance at the high school level and the ability to motivate today’s youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.” Brophy said she was very humbled by and proud of receiving this award.
“It is a great way to connect with students and build relationships, and hopefully to make a difference,” she said. “The fact that [students] keep coming back to me says that, yes, I am doing things that are important for them.”
At Wellesley High School, Brophy started the dance class, made some changes and additions to the Power-Up Personal Safety program, collaborated on the popular Mindful Yoga course, and also created a new class for teachers, Self-Care for Educators. These changes were made with the intention of changing the fitness and health landscape in Wellesley and across other high schools.
“I think it is a combination of paying attention to the MetroWest Youth Risk Survey, and times change, so we need to go with the times,” she said. In regards to physical education and activity she said, “Not everybody fits into the same box.”
With more of an emphasis on what she calls “life skills,” Brophy becomes more than a teacher. “We’re spending a lot more time paying attention to social and emotional health,” she said. “Teachers know that today’s high school students are dealing with a lot… so we are combining the social and emotional piece into our classes.”
These classes and Brophy’s efforts to improve student well-being have been successful. There were six different classes of Mindful Yoga this year, three in each semester. The student body’s feedback to these programs has been positive, and classes fill up quickly.
“That tells me that it is hopefully enjoyable… and that it is something they are getting a lot out of,” Brophy said.
Fitness and health teacher Mr. John Griffith recognizes Brophy for the success she has had in helping her students. “She is very passionate about what she teaches, and that passion relates to the students,” Griffith said. “They connect with her and are able to open up and really learn a lot from her.”