Fana Fuqua joined the P.E. Department at Sterne in 2019. We sat down to learn more about her role and P.E. at Sterne.
What were you hired for?
I was hired as a P.E. Teacher in the UEMS. Being new, I’m learning all that I can about P.E. at Sterne and collaborating with my colleagues.
What is your approach to physical education?
P.E. should be accessible to everyone -- emotionally and physically. I want to change the long-standing perceptions of P.E. fear and the negative associations of “I hate/hated P.E.” I want students to feel safe, so they are able to learn, grow, and be a part of a collaborative, competitive and fun experience.
What are you doing in P.E. to support this philosophy?
We’re a strengths-based model at Sterne and P.E. is a great example of this model in practice. We spend a lot of time getting to know one another in P.E. class and we’re also learning about our strengths.
We like to find where students fit in terms of activities and opportunities for growth, but we also want to mix up class ideas so they are learning and connecting with one another outside of their P.E. curriculum preferences. This folds into a bigger lesson: how to be compassionate, how to connect, how to work with others. As our students grow older- they will have relationships with colleagues, friends, partners, etc., and it’s important for them to learn how to embrace the variety of personalities and strengths each person or team brings into their lives.
What are some highlights?
There were some students who came in the first day, hands never came out of their pockets and they were silent. When I started talking to the group about our philosophy and using language like “this is a safe place”, “this is an inclusive activity”, and “you belong here”, I saw the students start to come out of their shells. One student who was quite shy and quiet at the start of Quarter 1, dove across the rooftop playground, taking a hard fall onto the ground, just to stop a ball in a game we were playing. She then got right up, and continued on in the game with a big smile.
I also see a lot of caring, thoughtful and compassionate behavior in our P.E. classes. This is so rewarding because P.E. can often trigger a fight or flight response in some students. But in this nurturing, supportive, strengths-based environment, we see students being kind and encouraging to one another even in the most competitive moments of play.
What are 3 things most people don’t know about you?
1. I am terrified of open water even though my entire life I’ve been an aquatic person.
2. I had my appendix out when I was in high school - emergency appendectimy. The doctor thought I had food poisoning.
3. I cry at all Disney and Pixar movies.