The program is ideal for teachers with demanding schedules. It is a blended, or hybrid, program, which means the students study mostly online, but come to the WVU campus in the summer for two weeks to take intensive classes.
“Coming down here in the summer and meeting other people is the best part,” Katie said.
Katie chose WVU because she had professors as an undergraduate at Lock Haven University who highly regarded WVU’s PETE program. She also loved the fact that as a Pennsylvania resident, she could pay in-state tuition at WVU.
The online program worked out great, because she is very busy with her teaching job at Muncy Junior-Senior High School in Muncy, Pennsylvania, where she teaches Health and PE to 7th through 12th graders, with about 80 students in each class.
She also coaches the weight room, and is a health and fitness coach, and a cross country coach.
“Life is good!” she laughs.
Katie considers herself a “go-getter” who likes to improve herself in any way she can. She says she was lucky to grow up in an active, supportive family.
“We love to run, bike, hunt, and we participate in biathlons, which include running and shooting.”
When she was ready to go for her master’s degree, Katie researched a bunch of schools and googled everything in her area of specialty—exercise science and physical education.
“I needed something that was either online or close to me and there was nothing close to me unless I got the degree in something like Instructional Technology. And since I coach, that wasn’t going to work anyway, unless I quit coaching,” Katie said.
WVU was a good choice because it is an online program, and the campus in Morgantown is only a five-hour drive from her home (“four if I floor it”), which also makes it easy for her to come here for two weeks in the summer.
This is Katie’s last summer on campus, since she will be graduating next May.
Her intensive classes include Technology in Physical Education, Motor Development in Special Populations, and Teaching and Physical Activities.
“My school really lacks technology, but they’re trying to get better with it, so I feel like the Technology in Physical Education class is great for me because I need to figure out how to put more of that into my own classroom,” she said.
“That’s the good thing about this program. Whatever you’re lacking, you can find what you need to fill in the gaps.
“I also love the Motor Development with Special Populations class with Dr. T (Andrea Taliaferro) because it’s so much fun to work with individuals with disabilities. It’s almost more rewarding than working with other students, although I love working with all students.”
Katie got a lot out of the Curriculum class because she learned about the different types of curriculum, different ways to set it up, how to motivate students, and how to be a more effective teacher.
“That’s my goal in life, really—to be a more effective teacher.”
She especially enjoys the Teaching and Physical Activities class because she loves teaching rugby and disc games.
“I’m a very hands-on, kinesthetic kind of person,” she said.
That even extends to her extra-curricular activities. She and fellow graduate Nick LeVasseur, who is also in her cohort this summer, are currently involved in a heated badminton competition.
“Another great thing when you come here in the summer and meet other people is that not only do you have the knowledge that you get from your professors, but you have 20 other health and physical education teachers to give you ideas.
“We go out at night, after we’ve done our lesson plans, and we eat nachos—which are NOT healthy, I have to say, as a health and fitness coach—and we talk a lot!” Katie says, laughing.
“Also, our professors are real human beings. We go out to dinner with them, and we know they have families. They’re not just away somewhere doing research, although they do a lot of research.
”They inspire us in so many ways. Just today, Dr. T said ‘Oh, I can ship you this equipment. I don’t know how, but I’ll get it to you if you need it.’
“I remembered that kind of dedication and involvement with students from last summer, and so I thought: ‘I’m going to model myself after these people.’”