Byrd School Educator of the Year: Mike Karcher

The physical education teacher at Byrd has some advice to students: try everything once!

Six educators in the Glen Rock Public Schools system can call themselves the best of the best, having been selected by colleagues as the top educators for 2011-2012 at their respective schools.

The list this year is quite diverse – you'll find resource room teachers, guidance counselors, science teachers, physical education teachers, art teachers and classroom teachers.

The six recipients were kind enough to answer a few questions Patch had about their role in shaping kids' futures. We've already , a guidance counselor at GRHS, , a 4th grade teacher at Hamilton, Coleman School art teacher , and middle school science teacher .

Next up is Mike Karcher, a physical education teacher at Byrd Elementary School. 

Why did you gravitate toward teaching? Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?

I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was a senior in high school. I loved sports and fitness and enjoyed working with kids. I knew teaching would give me the opportunity to make a positive impact in kid’s lives and ultimately the world.

What's the best part about teaching?

The best part about being a physical education teacher is introducing kids to new sports, recreational, and dance activities they can participate in for the rest of their lives.

What are the greatest challenges you find in teaching? How do you solve them?

The greatest challenge I have is finding ways to make sure all my students are successful. Each child has unique strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles when it comes to physical education. The “one size fits all” approach to teaching rarely works. Modifying equipment and setting unique goals has helped me help my students reach their full potential.

What's the most memorable thing that's happened in one of your classrooms?

One of the most memorable teaching moments for me was when I watched one of my students teach a boy with special needs how to shoot a basketball. It put a smile on my face knowing that my students feel confident in their skills and want to help their classmates.

Do you have a particular "style" of teaching?

Cooperative learning is a teaching method I often like to use. When students work together towards a common goal it offers them an opportunity to practice responsibility, problem solving, and teamwork. I’m always astonished by the clever ideas students come up with to solve a common problem.

Tell me about a teacher you found inspirational while you were a student.

My 8th grade social studies teacher, Mr. Dickman, was an inspiration to me growing up. He related well to his students and made us feel like he really cared about each of us. He was very knowledgeable and his projects were authentic and meaningful. He also had a great sense of humor, which helped lighten the mood in the classroom.

Do you have any advice for parents or students?

If I could offer one piece of advice to my students it would be to try everything at least once. As William Cowper once said, “Variety is the spice of life.” Whether it’s swimming, soccer, tennis, or dance, give it a shot. When you find an activity you like, stick with it. It will help you live a healthy and active lifestyle.


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