My Passion Project in Education

My Passion Project in Education
Name: Sara Koppenhaver
Pronouns: She/Her
Instagram: @skoppen12

I was never one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a teacher. In fact it wasn’t until the second half of my senior year of high school that I started considering it as an option for college. I spent some time working at a summer camp and after school program that year, and I started realizing that I truly enjoyed working with and helping kids learn. I had a positive experience in school with teachers empowering me and giving me opportunities for personal growth, and I wanted to pay that forward to others. I wanted to be a teacher who believed in students when nobody else did. I ended up pursuing physical education in college and haven’t looked back.

I’m entering my fourth year as a full time teacher, but worked for three years as a substitute before that. I teach middle schoolers, which is awesome because as I said in the interview that got me where I am now; middle schoolers are at a weird age and I’m weird so it’s a good match. I am the teacher that will tell corny “dad” jokes that leave half my students groaning and the other half laughing along with me. As much as I teach my students sport skills, fitness, and the importance of staying active, I also work to teach them to be good humans. Respect, sportsmanship, and communication are huge elements of my units and teaching.

I also coach two sports – middle school volleyball and high school softball. Coaching is something I am incredibly passionate about and love empowering my athletes, getting them to believe in themselves, and teaching life lessons through sports.

But there is one thing that I call my “passion project” which is the Paralympic Sport Day I put on at the end of each year for my 6th grade students. I spend my summer traveling and working at sports camps for kids who are visually impaired and blind and my favorite day each year is when I get to bring my summer self and world to my students at school. An educational immersion experience where my students learn that just because some people do things in a different way, or need different equipment to play a sport, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable. Equity through sport. I run what essentially is a field day for my students to experience Paralympic Sports including sit volleyball, 5-a-side soccer, and goalball along with modified Minute to Win It games to show how people perform activities of daily living in different ways. My students share how eye-opening and amazing the experience was, but seeing them become inclusive advocates in PE the following year because of the experience gives me hope that my students are making the world a better place.

I didn’t always see myself as a future teacher growing up, but I honestly can’t imagine what else I would do.

Find something that sets your soul on fire with passion.