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Midland Living Magazine

PE Recharged

Terri Pitts is not your average PE teacher. Yes, they play games, work up a sweat and have fun, however, in Coach Pitts’ gym there is a mind and body connection.

Written by  HALEY RAGSDALE  |  Photos by ANGELA GONZALES and provided by THE PITTS FAMILY

“PE has evolved. I am part of that change. PE used to be advanced recess. Play a game and go back to the classroom. Now it’s not just fun and games but also can include core subjects into movement. When you are thinking you are using one side of the brain, when you are moving you are using the other. It fires up the brain tremendously,” Pitts explained. 

Pitts began her career in San Antonio and went on to get her master’s in administration leadership, along with a certification in PE, health, ESL and special education. 

“The reason I went back to get my masters is to be the best teacher I can be. To be the best teacher you must be the best learner. All types of kids come to my classroom, so I want to be able to teach all of them to the best of my ability,” she said. 

The Pitts family had vacationed in West Texas before and loved the area.  They decided to make the move and Terri began working at Bush Elementary. 

“I wanted to move to Midland to make a difference. We love the people here. The students are so respectful saying ‘Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am’,” she said.  

Pitts unique take on PE with the mind and body connection is why she was selected as a finalist for the HEB Excellence in Education Award. 

“I have sat on the shoulders of many great teachers. I was so inspired and so humbled to be selected and cried like a baby when I won. Twenty years in education and filled with many changes, PE has come a long way. I think they are looking at us differently now, and I am so grateful,” she said. 

Pitts takes core subjects like math, language arts, spelling and connects them to movement filled games and exercise. 

“For example, I will incorporate spelling words with jumping jacks. I do academic relays and do Stem in the Gym. They are firing up their brain and having fun. My principal and other classroom teachers are seeing the correlation between movement and thinking. PE is different when I teach it,” she said. 

Pitts went on to say an academic relay race motivates kids differently. She explained that athletic kids that struggle with academics will work harder to learn the material so they will win the race. Other kids who may not love PE but shine in the classroom do well in the academic relays and enjoy PE more. 

Pitts’ approach of the whole-body connection is very evident with the use of her mindfulness corner in the gym. 

“After COVID, kids are having a hard time with social and emotional learning. We are learning breathing techniques like take five when you are feeling stressed. I have a mindfulness corner that I will send a student to if I can tell they had a bad night, or something is going on. I have coloring mazes, putty, stress strings and papers to write their feelings or draw pictures.  It gives their mind a diversion and it works,” 
Pitts’ passion for teaching goes beyond the classroom and into the community. She’s utilized a bike rodeo, a family fitness night, and a talent show to get the community involved. 

“I also write grants to help get equipment for the kids. In Midland, we have such a great partnership with Lowes and Target. Target is providing all of the stability balls so that we can do Drumfit. That is a program that uses rhythm and movement to help with math,” she said. 
Pitts could not say enough how much she loves her job, and decades into her teaching career she is always looking for new ways to motivate kids. 

“I have a drive to give the kids the best future I possibly can. I try to include every kid and their needs. I currently have a student in a wheelchair, and we have adapted a hockey stick to his wheelchair so he can play hockey too,” she said. 

Pitts incorporates many dexterity drills in her class like speed stacking and dribbling a basketball with both hands. 

“Using your right hand fires up the left side of your brain and vice versa. So, when we do dexterity drills, they leave the gym ready to learn,” she explained Pitts said she learns just as much from the kids as they do from her and hopes once they leave her guidance, the lessons they learn go beyond school and into their life. 

“I always say health is wealth. If you are not healthy you can’t do anything. Team sports teaches so much: sportsmanship, perseverance. So many life skills taught in PE, it is the whole package.”  
No doubt about it, students that are lucky enough to learn from Coach Pitts will never forget her lessons on both the body and the mind. †

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