In recognition of her coaching and physical education efforts, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s PE department chair, Betty Ann “BA” Fish, has received the HERitage Award from the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education Recreation & Dance. This award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to women’s sports.
Fish has coached many SCH sports teams: field hockey, lacrosse, softball, tennis, basketball, squash, and volleyball. “Being recognized by your peers is an honor, and as a Middle School coach it is special, since there are no championships,” she said.
Fish has worked at SCH for 32 years and in that time has seen many changes in her field, including more of a focus on wellness. The biggest change over the years has been the interdisciplinary connections between PE and other subjects the students learn about, such as the alphabet, addition and subtraction, and projects in science. Fish is constantly in classrooms, finding out what teachers are working on so she can use PE time to reinforce those lessons.
For example, in Pre-K, when students learn about turtles, Fish blows up a giant inflatable turtle and the students practice teamwork as they move it around the gym. In another class, you may see kids playing cooperative activities that build self-confidence, scootering around a circuit designed to teach them about the heart using iPads for circuit training, or jogging over to cards on the floor depicting the stages of a butterfly’s life.
Fish is particularly interested in how interactive technologies can be used to enhance her students’ physical education experience. Over the summer, she presented at the International Society for Technology in Education conference on a variety of apps she uses as part of her teaching. One, called BrainPOP, hosts a video on how the heart works. She supplements the video with a circuit exercise in which the kids pretend they’re traveling in the bloodstream through the various parts of the heart. Fish noted that this activity offers different kinds of learning for everyone; they’re thinking, listening, watching, and moving.
The most rewarding aspects of her job are the little things that let her know she’s having a positive impact on a student’s life, such as when a student proudly showed her a pedometer she requested for her birthday, or when one student hugged her, saying she ran a quarter-mile over the weekend.
Her barometer of success is hearing that her students continue to be active when they leave her gym. “Wellness is about being physically active for life, understanding the relationship of the heart to the body and why it’s important to move, make good choices for your body, eat well, and find a balance in life,” she explained.