Teachers Sarah Palmer and Chris Barnhart were chosen to receive the prestigious 2017 Simon McNeely Award from the Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD). Palmer has been teaching PE for twenty years, eleven of those at Emmitsburg Elementary School. Barnhart, who has been teaching PE for twenty-five years, has been at Thurmont Primary for seventeen years.
Palmer (pictured right) received this award for her creativity and innovation. In a joint project with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers in her building, Palmer worked with fifth grade PE students to design and build an indoor miniature golf course, using their STEM skills, together with the golf skills learned in PE classes. The golf course is part of the annual field day activity, which is a community event in Emmitsburg. She has shared her lesson ideas and strategies with other Frederick County Public School (FCPS) PE teachers. She said that the best part of her job is getting to know the students, watching them grow and be successful, and “…it is fun to see them try different things and get those aha moments.”
Barnhart (pictured left) was chosen for this award for his work on curriculum development and leadership in elementary physical education. Because Thurmont Primary students are Kindergarten through second grade, Barnhart focuses on teaching skills such as kicking, throwing, catching, punting, and other skills related to sports. He also combines vocabulary with PE by teaching the words related to the sports skills they are learning. Health and nutrition lessons include cleanliness, handwashing, brushing teeth, and other healthy habits. Barnhart said that there are so many things he enjoys about his job. He said, “It’s awesome. The students love coming to PE. Everything you teach them they want to go home and tell mom and dad. The impact I can have on them is what overwhelms me.”
According to Jamie Hitchner, Curriculum Specialist for Elementary PE and Health, both Palmer and Barnhart also participate in leadership teams and staff development with FCPS. He said, “Both Mr. Barnhart and Ms. Palmer exemplify the outstanding work that our programs accomplish for the benefit of our students and community.”