By Amy Haggerty
Gym class in school influenced many of us to become the people we are today. There, we learned valuable physical skills that set a pattern for lifelong fitness. Rachel Jones, a 19-year veteran teacher, exposes her young 5s to 5th grade students to a variety of activities. She makes gym class a fun, game-like experience, and her students love her classes.
Jones grew up north of Stockbridge in St. Louis, Mich. While attending Saginaw Valley State University, she played 4 years of volleyball and held two very different part time jobs. After graduating with a major in Physical Education K-12 and a minor in 7-12 grade Biology, she worked at the Saginaw Juvenile Detention Center and made pizza at Italian Oven.
She was happy to find Stockbridge, similar to St. Louis. “Stockbridge reminded me of a lot of my hometown St. Louis,” she said. “I had a great childhood and great experiences growing up in a small town.”
Jones married Ryan 19 years ago, and they have two children, Brock, 15, is a sophomore, and Maggie, 12, a seventh grader. Both attend Stockbridge Jr/Sr High School.
“Stockbridge has been absolutely wonderful to me and my family,” Jones added. “This town takes care of their friends and neighbors.”
Physical Education has always been Jones’ favorite subject. “It gives students a chance to excel in a different area,” she said. “Kids get to become creative, learn important social skills, participate in an interactive way, and sometimes just have fun.” Jones said she loves getting to know her students. Since she has them for multiple years, she enjoys watching them grow.
One of the best parts of teaching in Stockbridge, she says, is when a former student tells her something they remember from her class. “It means a lot to me that something I did or something I taught was so memorable to them. “
Smith Elementary Principal Brad Edwards said, “Ms. Jones is a dedicated PE teacher who seeks to bring out the best in her students. It is always fun to see how engaging she is with her students.” Edwards said, “She is very involved with her students,” and she consistently “makes sure students are using correct form when completing their activities.”
Jones feels field days are some of her greater accomplishments. Her students look forward them, and her former students often bring up field days in reference to their best memories. “It’s a great ending to the year, and a chance for kids to have fun with their classmates and teachers.”
Jones encourages her students to “give their best effort.” She realizes that physical education can often be an area where a student feels awkward or afraid to try something new for fear of looking foolish. With that in mind, she does her best to create a comfortable setting where “it’s okay to fail, as long as you keep trying and do your best.”