GREEN  Gym class for many involved playing games and just having fun. The days of gym have changed as most schools now refer to the class as physical education and there are standards that have to be met.

While students are still playing and having fun, there are lessons to be learned and benchmarks teachers have to reach.

Green Primary School Physical Education Teacher Nicci West is her 20th year teaching and has seen the changes first-hand. She said she now has to give an assessment to all second-graders, which tests running, skipping, throwing, catching and a couple of written tests. She said there is a lot of carryover on what is learned in the classroom that is brought into physical education.

West said she tries to connect reading and math into her lessons.

"The overall goal is the same," West said. "I want to make all of the kids be active the rest of their lives."

Students spend about two and half months on fitness, West said.

"The content taught has changed," West said. "They are not just coming in and playing, they are learning too."

Despite physical education involving more learning, West said kids love it.

"We learn and play," West said. "You cannot take that aspect away from it. At this age, you need play."


West started her teaching career at Greenwood School, which was formerly the elementary school, before Green Primary School was built.

"I always knew I wanted to be a teacher," West said. "I just didn’t know what subject."

West teaches physical education to first-, second- and third-graders and has six classes per day. In a six day rotation, she said she sees all 900 students in the building.

The most rewarding part of her job she said is when students say they cannot do something but then the "ah ha" moment comes along and the student figures something out.

Behavior issues are not common in her classes, West said, because students know if they make a bad choice they will have to sit out an activity.

Keeping the students focused on the task at hand can be hard West said. She said she is constantly changing what the students are doing to help keep their interest.

One of the biggest challenges, West said, is getting children to be active. In the 20 years of teaching, West said she notices more students that are obese because she believes they just aren’t as active outside of school.

"Outside of here some kids don’t play and move," West said. "I just don’t see kids playing outside of school and that makes me sad."