Originally published Sept. 20, 2018 in the Sun-Sentinel.com.
By Alex Kushel
Kristen Frazer has made an impact on her students at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Boynton Beach. The Physical Education Department chairwoman has emphasized participation, teamwork and assisted in implementing classes for students to immerse themselves into several activities within the curriculum.
Frazer’s dedication and commitment to her work was rewarded as she recently was named the 2018 Florida Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators.
“Ms. Frazer is one of those teachers that her students will remember years from now as one of their favorite teachers,” Christa McAuliffe Middle School Principal Jeff Silverman said. “She makes physical education fun and enjoyable, plus she takes time to build amazing relationships with each and every one of her students. She is seen by students as super friendly and as someone that genuinely cares about them.”
The Boynton Beach resident also was recognized this month by the School Board of Palm Beach County and given a certificate of recognition for her achievement.
Frazer said she enjoyed the moment with her parents in attendance.
“I am honored and it’s quite amazing,” she said. “Our administration and Principal Silverman have been so supportive and really believe in what we are doing with our PE curriculum for our students. “It’s awesome and really phenomenal.”
Frazer, who won an award among all middle school PE teachers in the state, will also be recognized at the Society of Health and Physical Educators ceremony in Lake Buena Vista in October.
Silverman said Frazer does charitable worked in the form of the annual “Jump Rope for Heart” event each year, in which she has the students raise money for the Lung Association by jumping rope.
“PE class can be stressful for some students, especially those that may not be as athletic or coordinated as their peers,” he said. “Ms. Frazer makes the activities safe for all students, regardless of their ability level so that all can have a fun time while at the same time, learning healthy skills and getting in some good physical activity time.”
She has been at Christa McAuliffe Middle School for 12 years and started as a math teacher before spending the last seven years in physical education. She works primarily with sixth-graders and works together with the Physical Education Department, which includes Mike Dragovich, Kevin Williams and Heather Whitfield.
“The biggest difference is the students are participating and excited to try new activities,” Frazer said. “We have kids who are requesting to have PE as an elective and take the class all year.”
Frazer said her goal is for students to establish habits of exercising and eating healthy, noting the school provides several options for activities, including dance, yoga and Pilates. The students also participate in dual and racket sports. The Physical Education Department also helps students with conditioning and training, including instruction on muscular endurance and heart rate.
“The kids do not have to be athletes to enjoy our PE classes,” she said. “They need to be moving and exercising and participate. We introduce different choices for them and they are able to discover what they like.”
Frazer also has enjoyed the opportunity to attend trainings and conferences with the Society of Health and Physical Educators and network with other teachers in the state.
“We are able to pick up great ideas from each other and I am able to work together with other professionals to see what is working for them,” she said.
Frazer, who grew up outside of Dallas, played basketball at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and also was the former head basketball coach at West Boca Community High School for six years, guiding the team to a district title.
She serves as an assistant coach for the track and field team at Christa McAuliffe and has been integral in the increased amount of students participating on sports teams at the school.
“It’s rewarding to put the time in and having a positive effect on the students,” Frazer said. “It’s great when you see kids who never played sports who doubted themselves and now are confident in their abilities. It’s the best moment to help get them there. I have seen kids who started to participate for the first time at our school and later went on to receive a Division I scholarship to play in college.”