Originally published May 3, 2021 in the Star Herald.
By Olivia Wieseler
“Up, up! Push! All the way!” Gering PE teacher Adam Freeburg yelled encouragement to his students who maxed out on Monday, May 3. Freeburg, who has been with Gering High School for 14 years, has been helping students improve their weightlifting for his entire teaching career.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’m not sure that I planned to be here this long. I just got comfortable here. … I just got comfortable with the people, and I just like the atmosphere, and I like the culture of the school. I just kind of came back year after year, and here I am 14 years later.”
He and his wife Lisa actually began at GHS at the same time, both hired as PE teachers. About six years later, they began dating, and finally married, all the while working side by side as two of the three PE educators at the high school.
“That’s all we know,” Freeburg said. “This was her first job too, so we don’t know any different. … We’ve never not worked with each other.”
Freeburg teaches some freshmen and sophomore classes, in which the students play different activities. He also teaches two weight classes, a growing program which he has been most excited about.
“We really focus a lot on our weights program,” he said. “We go over our workouts, and we’re making sure the kids are improving like they should and just always tweaking the little gaps for the kid and kind of adjusting things every now and then and making sure they have what they need to be successful in the weight room.”
Freeburg said he’s loved seeing the program expand, especially with the hiring of football coach Danny O’Boyle, who was a former student and athlete of Freeburg’s.
“We really got on the same page as far as our philosophy in the weight room and what we believe in the weight room. We just sat down and talked about the things that we need to get better at, and it was just nice to have him be on the same page as us,” he said. “This program has really taken off.”
Freeburg sees the value, not only for students to improve in weight lifting, but to fit physical activity into their day generally, and he’s grateful that the school supports his and the other PE teachers’ mission to get the students active and keep them healthy.
“It’s really important, just in the fact of to let kids get out of their desks that they’ve been sitting in, and the other classes and get them up and moving,” he said. “There’s a lot of research data that shows that adding physical activity to your day actually improves test scores, and it actually improves brain function. So being a part of those activity classes or the weights class — any PE class — will … improve not only your physical fitness, but it will also improve your mental capabilities.”
One of Freeburg’s favorite parts of his job is to see his students improve.
“Seeing kids getting better is really rewarding. I would say that’s the main part of my job that I like the most is seeing kids get stronger, seeing kids feel that improvement, and they kind of see that light switch come on,” he said. “That’s when it gets really fun for them is once they see that improvement and they see what we’ve been telling them and what we’ve been showing them is working.”
Everything from the driven students to the supportive staff is what has kept Freeburg at Gering for his entire career. He said the atmosphere within the district is something he will always value.
“It’s just been about the people,” he said. “When I first came here, I didn’t know one person from Gering — I didn’t know anybody from Gering when I got hired here. It was just a job I’d applied for, and I got it, and I just kind of fell in love with the people. I fell in love with the camaraderie of our school.”
This is one of a series of profiles on local teachers to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week.