Bixby P.E. Teacher Makes Health Inviting

Managing Editor

TEACHER OF THE YEAR: North Elementary’s Teacher of the Year Kristie Sullivan teaches P.E. and endeavors to have an effect on all of her students, which can prove challenging with the growth in the Bixby School District. Sullivan sees 730 students, or 30 classes, per week, which means she teaches eight classes each day.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

North Elementary’s Physical Education Teacher Kristie Sullivan has always known that what she teaches goes well beyond how to shoot a basket.

“It’s more than how to play a sport,” she says. “It’s about character, learning to be successful, being nice to others.”

Sullivan sees 730 students, or 30 classes, per week; that means she teaches eight classes each day—a number she wasn’t expecting when she came to the school district nine years ago.

After spending 15 years teaching at Jenks, Sullivan chose to work for Bixby schools because she lived in the district and wanted to feel more in touch with her community, plus that was where her son, and later her daughter, attended school.
“I thought I was moving to a smaller district,” she says, “but Bixby is the new Jenks.”

Sullivan was no stranger to the Jenks school district when she began working there. Four years before that, she had graduated from Jenks High School. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in P.E. and health from Oklahoma State University, she returned to her alma mater to teach P.E., a career plan that had originally belonged to one of her older sisters. When that sister suffered a neck injury that left her paralyzed, Sullivan decided to pick up the torch of her sister’s dream.

“I’ve always liked kids and sports,” says Sullivan, who also coached track and cross country at Jenks and currently coaches a jump roping team at the Bixby Community Center.

Regardless of what she’s doing, though, whether it’s coaching or teaching a new game or exercise activity, Sullivan wants to impact each one of her students, something that can prove challenging.

“I try to say something to all of my students, but it’s hard with 40 kids and just 40 minutes of class time,” she says. “I wish I had them more often and longer.”

Sullivan was named North Elementary’s 2012-13 Teacher of the Year, an award that Sullivan feels she received due to her peers’ understanding of her workload. “This is the most kids I’ve ever had,” she says. “I feel like the teachers recognize that. Sometimes I feel like an ant farmer; trying to make an impact on all of them.”

But Sullivan continues to try, hoping her students leave her class knowing more about themselves and health.

“Teaching them how to throw a ball and kick is only one aspect,” she says. “We all need to be active and learn the importance of being healthy but also about how to be fit and that it’s fun. Students will just be playing, and I’ll say, ‘You didn’t know you were exercising, did you?’”

Updated 05-10-2013

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