Shrewsbury educator honored as state’s ‘Middle School Teacher of the Year’
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Caryn Keenan has much to smile about these days. Recently the Oak Middle School teacher was honored by the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD) as the 2014 Middle School Teacher of the Year. Having taught for 21 years, Keenan is delighted with this recognition that she has received but was also quick to give credit to others.
“I love my job and all of the people that I work with. My boss, Patricia Degon, is awesome. She is the director of health, physical education and family consumer science [for the district]. The town of Shrewsbury is fantastic because they are such huge supporters of physical education as well,” said Keenan.
Keenan was instrumental in helping the district win a Carol M. White Get Fit Adventure PEP Grant, a national grant designed to help initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs in school districts. As such, Keenan and other team members helped to create Family Adventure nights and chose specific apparatus for the different schools. The students have appeared to rise to the challenge of each physical task at hand, Keenan noted, whether it’s the rock wall, rope climbing, tread-climbing wall and other apparatus.
“[Oak Middle School physical education teacher]Jeff LaRose and I have worked together for the past 15 years. We make a great team and he is like my best friend. He was out for a bit of time last year so a lot of the work for this PEP Grant fell on me,” Keenan said. “[MAHPERD] saw all of the work I was doing on the grant and that I was adding new things to the program all of the time.”
As part of the grant, Keenan is heading to New Orleans for the AAHPERD National Convention and Expo along with Degon and six other physical education staff members within the district.
For Keenan, physical education is not just her job but also her life. She is active and enjoys new physical challenges. She said she believes that if you take care of your body, it will, in turn, take care of you. She credits her parents as her role models and has always been encouraged to be part of an active lifestyle.
“It is our job as teachers to show the kids that there are all different ways to do physical activity, no matter what your ability is,” said Keenan.
Growing up in Shrewsbury, Keenan has always taken advantage of the outdoors, no matter what the season. Although she now resides in Paxton, she still has a fondness for Shrewsbury.
“I am so touched and honored by this award. It’s nice to know that your hard work is recognized and people appreciate what you do. The kids here are extremely fortunate. We also have a great group of teachers,” said Keenan.
“She is most deserving of this award. Everything she does is about the students. She devotes a lot of time to the new initiatives and the PEP Grant and is a great role model. The students all look up to her. She really is a superstar,” Ann M. Jones, Oak Middle School’s principal said.
Keenan will also be honored at MAHPERD’s Honors/Awards Banquet Sunday, April 13 at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough.
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