Sarah Stratton taught my CREW class in sixth grade at North Shore Middle School. CREW stands for Cultivating Recreation Education and Wellness. In this class, we alternated between learning about health in the classroom and going into the gym. Currently, I am a senior in a class at Arrowhead called Health Practicum that allows me to leave a couple times a week for the last two periods of school. During this time, I go to North Shore Middle School with another student and we are student aids for Mrs. Stratton. We stay there until the end of their school day, which is around 4 o’clock.
I am able to observe her teaching style from two perspectives. When taking her class, I appreciated the activities we did in the gym. I loved how we had the opportunity to learn new games. Have you ever heard of the game tchoukball? I hadn’t either until joining her class. Figuring out the rules and how fast pace the game is with my teammates became an experience I looked forward to, because we started out knowing absolutely nothing! We were the last class of two elementary school combining to one middle school, like a miniature transition before eight schools at Arrowhead. She organized teams of different colors. We learned about each other and bonded through making a cheer for our team and our warm ups before we started each class. This significantly helped me make connections with others because there were nearly all new people in my classes. You need to make new friends for all activities within classes at high school.
Mrs. Stratton bubbles energy and dressed like she’s ready to exercise with us. She is the captain of our teams, like when she was the captain of her D1 soccer team at Northern Iowa State for three years. She speaks with authority, but remains approachable and accommodating.
I am grateful that I can walk in excited each week, to learn from a new perspective. I help her throughout two periods. The first class is an eighth grade life charter class with special needs students, and their behavior can chaotic. Part of what I do involves taking initiative, which I have grown to have more as this year. I tell them what to do when they’re not listening. I graded tests and other worksheets, which involves paying attention to detail and deciding what answers are appropriate for the context of the question. I learned to build relationships and change my expectations of the students. Plus, it is interesting to observe the differences in ability and character when changing from the classroom to the gym. The seventh grade class has students that work hard and pay attention in the classroom, but coordination when in the gym is limited and sometimes comical.
I have been present for her life milestones. When I participated in her class, she got engaged and married. Now when I started to volunteer as a student aid, she got pregnant. I loved talking about baby names with her and the students. One of the top names in the mix is the same as my good friend. So she and I connected more through her asking questions about how he felt about his name.
She is nurturing, fair-minded, and supportive to those who depend on her (the students), so I could tell she would be a great mother. This taught me that your qualities and abilities seep into all areas of your life.
Observing her strengths shown through and personality heighten during important times in life and her job. We discussed her family and on how her husband finished up his Phd and was applying for jobs to be a professor. During mid-February, she told me that he ended up getting the job and they were going to move there during the summer! I was happy for her, yet sad for the students that this was happening.
“The three most stressful events in life are having a child, moving, and buying a house,” she told me. And she showed me a house they put an offer on and the story behind the people living there currently. Seeing her handle these stressful events while maintaining a good attitude at work has shown a great example of separating work from home. She left the day before spring break for maternity leave and had her baby April 12 . She ended up naming the baby my friend’s name which is exciting!
Walking into a class with Mrs. Stratton is like walking into a Monkey Joes—you are excited to jump around and go through obstacles (and know that you will be safe). Through the help and guidance of Mrs. Stratton, I became an intelligent woman. I now want to spend my career in a cultivating educational educating others on dietary wellness, and who says it can’t be recreational? I will incorporate CREW as a dietitian. My future job will be just like hers, but with a twist.