PE teacher loves to see his students smile

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 2021

When it comes to his job as a physical education teacher at Eastside Elementary School in LaFayette, there’s nothing Jeremy Ricks enjoys more than seeing his students smile.

“My favorite thing is, first is seeing the kids come off the school bus with a smile on their face, stepping into PE with a smile on their face, me providing a safe, fun environment for them, and them leaving with a smile on their face, knowing they had a good time in PE,” Ricks said.

What Ricks thinks students enjoy most about his classes is being active and engaged.

“I try my best to connect with each student,” he said. “Sometimes I go to each student throughout the day and have a quick connection with them, a quick conversation to bring a smile to their face, a good laugh.”

It was at a faculty meeting after school that Ricks found out he’d been chosen as his school’s teacher of the year. School Principal Allyson Matthews was giving a PowerPoint presentation when she announced the news. On one of the slides was a picture of Ricks’ face.

“It felt amazing to know that the fellow teachers here recognize my hard work, and Ms. Matthews and Mrs. Loftin, which are the administrators,” he said.

Ricks said students’ favorite activities in his classes are dodgeball and Free Day Friday. On Free Day Friday, if students behaved well throughout the week, they get to listen to music while they play.

“My favorite PE activity would also be Free Day Friday because I have basketballs out, I have hula hoops out, jump ropes out,” he said. “It’s a free day for the kids to run around and pick whatever activity, whichever one we have to engage in.”

Ricks coaches students not just in games but in character.

“Nobody’s better than the other person,” he said. “I encourage them to be the best version of themselves. Many things I try to instill in them, I learned from my parents and my fellow teachers as coaches,” he said.

This is Ricks’ fourth year as a PE teacher at the school and his fifth year of teaching. He started out as a PE teacher at Erwin Middle School in Center Point, Alabama.

Ricks studied physical education at Alabama A&M University. During his time in college, he also interned by coaching sports at local schools.