Originally published May 5, 2022 in the Kane County Chronicle.
By Brenda Schory
After seven years teaching physical education at Geneva High School, this is Taylor Fieser’s first year teaching at both of District 304′s middle schools.
And while her students are now younger, she continues to encourage them to try new activities and sports while creating a comfortable and safe environment.
“It’s been great,” Fieser said. “The kids are so awesome. They are energetic and funny. I love when kids learn a new sport or an activity that is more challenging. They pick it up and they’re explaining and teaching other kids in class who otherwise wouldn’t do it.”
Fieser said she sees the students’ need to be active and not worry about other stuff.
“They can exercise and be with friends and socialize and have fun,” she said. “I instill that from the get-go, not calling out anybody, ever. It’s a safe environment. I do not tolerate bullying or talking about anybody.”
Students do track and weightlifting and play soccer, flag football, volleyball, badminton, pickle ball and tchoukball, she said.
Tchoukball involves bouncing a ball off a tilted square with teams competing for who can catch it first.
“My goal is always to motivate and bring really happy, positive light to each day,” Fieser said. “I am always cognizant of how kids feel. It’s not easy in middle school. It’s a really tough age – changing and learning and always worried about what peers are thinking. I want to keep a kind, happy, positive environment where they are excited to try a few things.”
Others, such as Geneva Middle School North Acting Principal Karen Kim, have noticed Fieser and her teaching methods.
“Taylor Fieser is a great middle school teacher because she has an approachable demeanor that is kind and accepting of all students,” Kim said in an email. “She is a role model for students in every action and encourages students to work toward progress, not perfection.”
Fieser said she wanted to be a physical education teacher all her life.
“I went to Geneva High School and their PE department was incredible,” Fieser said. “I loved every single one of my teachers and I was so excited to go to class every day. My passion is in sports and kids and teaching.”
In high school, she played volleyball and soccer, but basketball was her top sport.
Teaching is in the family, it seems. Her mother, Cindy Whitley, is an instructional assistant at the high school and her sister, Caty Francis, teaches first grade at Mill Creek Elementary School.
“We totally played school growing up,” Fieser said. “I always pretended I owned a sports thing or a dance studio.”