Originally published Nov. 25, 2022 in The Baynet.
A recent afternoon at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School found third graders in an intense game of battleship as their physical education (PE) teacher, Marty Margolis, observed — and at times joined in.
Rather than focusing on the game board, two teams set up on either side of a barrier made of mats. Then they let loose a barrage of dodge balls in hopes of toppling the five oversized bowling pins (still draped in ghost costumes from Halloween) strategically placed on the other side.
When a student needed to catch a glimpse of the other side’s ship placement, they ran to a safe zone where they had a second or two to gauge coordinates by peering through an oversized pair of binoculars made up of two hula hoops. Laughter, cheers and groans of defeat pinged off the gym’s walls — it was chaotic in the most fun way. And keeping with the third-grade physical education curriculum it was designed to improve the overhand throwing abilities of the students.
Margolis has spent his entire 26-year teaching career at Mitchell, all as the PE teacher. He was recently honored by the Society of Health and Physical Educators of Maryland (SHAPE MD) as its Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year. SHAPE MD is an organization that provides advocacy, resources and professional learning opportunities for current and future health and physical educators who teach students in prekindergarten through 12th grade.
As a student at Maurice J. McDonough High School, Margolis played football and was a state champion wrestler. And he knew he wanted to be a teacher. While studying at the University of Maryland College Park, Margolis was on track to becoming a high school math teacher. His interests shifted a bit and when the job as a PE teacher was offered to him at Mitchell, Margolis took it.