Teaching physical education and health is as simple as tossing out a few balls and telling the kids to run around and feel your heart pounding, right? Well, that couldn’t be any farther from the description of PE teacher Sara Coon. A teacher who exemplifies ways to raise the bar time and time again, both in and out of her gym.
Sara was hired by Mars Area School District in the Fall of 2018 to teach PE and health. She travels between the Primary Center and Centennial School to teach 1st, 5th, and 6th graders. Mrs. Coon started teaching in 1997, just out of college. She says, “I got lucky,” but I think it’s the other way around -- they were lucky to have found her! She taught K-5th grade PE for three years in Greensboro, NC. Then she moved to Sanford, NC and taught health and PE to 6th, 7th and 8th graders for two years. After taking a few years off to stay home with her own children, Mrs. Coon started back into teaching. She substitute taught for Seneca Valley, Mars, North Allegheny, Rochester, and Freedom, which soon led to her job offer from Mars.
From the day Mrs. Coon started teaching PE at the Primary Center, her passion was evident. The kids would enter the gym thrilled to see what exciting activities were set up and how they were going to interact with the equipment. She makes PE a safe space, even for the kids who are still developing their athletic skills, and she gives them something achievable to look forward to.
Sara chose to carry on the legacy of a former, beloved Mars PE teacher by continuing the yearly American Heart Association fundraiser. The AHA is a nationally recognized organization that gives back to the community, as well as to the school. Mrs. Coon said that, “AHA is near and dear to me, as I lost a close friend to heart disease.” She knows it's essential for children to understand why they must take care of their heart, starting at a young age. This message can be life changing! Mrs. Coon says, “If I can teach the kids the importance of exercise, eating healthy, and being drug free, I am happy!” Beyond that, the AHA provides great resources for teaching students how to care for their heart, starting at a young age.
Of course planning a fundraiser during a pandemic would set things back a little, but does that stop an optimistic, motivated PE teacher? No way! This year Mrs. Coon was amazed at the generosity of the Mars community and how they came together to support AHA. It was a major bummer not to have the big kick off assembly at the schools. However, Mrs. Coon managed with a virtual assembly. She also invited parents into the school for a jumping rope PE class with their child, a shared activity cherished by many in the past. Mrs. Coon made the best of it by allowing parents to logon and enjoy viewing their child jumping rope with friends in the gym. She knows how to go that extra mile!
Seeing Mrs. Coon in the gym, interacting with her students, makes it completely evident that she loves her job! Her favorite part of her job is watching her students achieve skills that they could not do before. The smile on their faces when they realize they are mastering something new just warms her heart. As Sara’s favorite motto goes, "If you don’t have health, you don’t have anything!”
Mrs. Coon grew up in Sweden, in a family that was very active! They skied in the winter, both cross country and downhill, and in the summer it was water skiing! She played basketball from second grade through high school. She started refereeing basketball before coming to the United States. Sara attended UNC-Greensboro, where she met her husband. Together they have three children who are all active in sports; baseball, soccer, volleyball, and horseback riding.