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2003 PFA All Star Teacher
Debbie Mickens

Debbie Mickens

Lee Hill Elementary School
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Debbie Mickens has been in public education for 14 years in Spotsylvania County and received a PFA grant in 2005. Debbie has created a physical education program that is motivating and engaging, focusing on making physical fitness a way of life for her students.  She attracts her students to maximize their learning through her instructional methods of: using “fresh” ideas of student interest; making connections in core-curricular areas; incorporating tools and skills that kids need to reach their potential in teamwork, positive relationships, and physical activity, while having fun the whole time.  Some of her ideas to make connections for kids have involved; multiplication tables up on the walls of the gym for counting repetitions, coordinates for squads and warm-ups, using letters on the front wall and numbers on the side wall, remediation efforts with classroom teachers to make learning fun.

She volunteered to pilot the P.E. Paraeducator Program in our county that is currently in the third year of operation.  The para program initiative was two-fold; students received structured P.E. twice a week, and students received flexible library benefiting them in reading and research.  Since her style is student-centered, she didn't hesitate to make this program a success, taking the challenge as an opportunity to highlight her P.E. program.  We have seen a huge increase in physical fitness assessment scores for students every year, an expansion of resources, equipment and volunteers that have been needed to implement activities for students.  She is a wonderful advocate for our school gaining financial support through fundraisers, grants, and purchases, including a traverse rock wall through our PTO, building a community within our school to fulfill the emotional, social and physical needs of students.  This is evident in the award she won through our local broadcasting radio station, WFLS, Golden Apple Award in 2007.  She is an integral part of our school and we are honored to be a part of her success!

Debbie Micken's Programs, Activities & Teaching Philosophy

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All Star Update

2010 Update

Debbie Mickens: All-Star Teacher 2008

It has been almost four years since I received my Project Fit America (PFA) Grant. There have been a few changes in my life, but most of them have been in my personal life. I have been teaching Physical Education (PE) at Lee Hill Elementary now going on 13 years. During the last four years, my PE curriculum has been greatly enriched by PFA. I have been pleased with the students’ success during activities, but also fitness results. The Virginia Wellness scores and President’s Challenge program have earned my students recognition. Plus, our student scores in the Virginia Wellness program helped Lee Hill Elementary earn the Governor’s Award in 2010. A component of the criterion was the physical education and health of the students. I consider PFA an ingredient and acknowledge their support as part of our accomplishment.

The fantastic PFA activities I have taught my students have been a “hit” since the first day I introduced them. The students are able to create and build together using the cup building skills, so much so, that a forty-five (45) minute period is not long enough for them to finish! They’re always excited when I can take pictures of their creation! Another favorite activity is the heavy hoops. My 5th grade students decided to have a contest to determine who could use the hula hoop the longest during PE class. They were still in progress when the class was over, and they wanted to stay all day in the gym to see who would win! These are just a couple of the many games and activities that share in the life of my “PE students.” Due to the economy and budget cuts, it has been challenging, and we have endured many changes to say the least, but one thing is for sure… students still beam and say to me in the hall, “I can’t wait to come to PE.” We are both grinning from ear to ear. PFA support, activities, and equipment have made my job awe-inspiring and have touched the lives of many people.

A passion of mine that I get to share with my students is photography. Taking pictures in PE is like second nature and recognizes many students’ accomplishments. Consequently, I started taking pictures of many activities throughout the school. For that reason, I have been recognized for my creativity and now serve as the Yearbook Coordinator. The team that I lead consists of staff and students using the latest technology and computer based program to create the yearbook. I am proud to be a part of documenting these school memories for our students to cherish for many years to come. I am always looking for ways to instruct students in making connections. Therefore, I integrate the core content into my PE program. Incorporating the core curriculum has not taken away from our level of physical activity, it has enhanced the series of games involving topics or themes. Additionally, I am an after-school remediation teacher for our “SOL After-School Program.” This is run after school using a computer based program and targets weak areas in math and reading. I use many math visuals in my PE classes and have painted a number line on my gym wall to help students visualize different math concepts. As a physical education teacher, I continue to focus on the whole child, cognitively, socially, physically and emotionally. We work on team building, conflict resolution and character building through various activities. My teamwork ethic expands to my PE teacher peers. I share activities, ideas, equipment, PFA information, whatever it takes to reach and help as many students, teachers, and parents as possible.

I mentioned that there have been some changes in my personal life, life can be challenging, which is why my work is important and rewarding to me. I recently went through a divorce and have moved to a new location in the Fredericksburg area. My greatest joy is my grandson who steals my heart every time I see him. My visits are not very often because my daughter and her husband live in Pennsylvania. I enjoy getting new pictures and seeing him grow every day. The internet has been a great tool. During this transitional time in my life, my cycling, which is one of my passions, had to be put aside. Now after a two year absence from the sport, I am riding again and just loving it! I have a mountain bike and a road bike which keeps me very busy on nice sunny days. I also take the opportunity to talk to my students about the sport and safety with a bicycle. My passion as a cyclist also helps my students understand the importance of lifetime activities for a healthy lifestyle.