Originally published Dec. 10, 2020 by Fox8 News.

By Cindy Farmer

Before COVID-19, you could find Amanda Browning smiling and having fun getting her Weaver Academy students physically active in the gym at the Spears YMCA in Greensboro.

“I love seeing the kids active, moving, enjoying physical activity, you know, finding successes when they didn’t think that they could,” said Browning.

But these days the health and physical education teacher is having to take a different approach. She only “sees” her students on her computer screen during her virtual classes.

She has had to get creative with them to get her students up and moving.

According to Browning, “It definitely has its challenges. It’s really forced me to think outside the box and come up with ways to still engage students in the content matter to get them up, to get them moving, get them, even though they’re watching me from a computer screen, to stand while they’re watching me through the computer screen, and still find ways to really make connections with them.”

Even in these trying times, she’s found a way to make those connections strong, something she says said she learned from her own teachers.

“My teachers growing up, they made learning fun,” said Browning. “But they also really tried to make personal connections and relationships with me. So they not only are teaching me the academics, but they were also teaching me how to be just a better person.”

So now, she’s doing the same for her students.

“It’s my goal to really help them explore their community, to explore what they like, their strengths and their weaknesses, and find things that are like, ‘Hey, I can do this, and I can do this on my own,'” Browning said.

She’s taught them to use things they have, like “sock balls and towels” to have fun all while getting fit.

The students seem to like it and they get lots of laughter during her class, something they all need.

Thinking outside the box is just one of many reasons she was recently named the North Carolina Teacher of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators.

“It’s awesome. It’s quite an honor, especially since I know that there are just an incredible amount of health and physical education teachers, not just here in Guilford County, but across our state. So I was definitely honored,” she said.

And it made her want to share her passion with her students even more!

“I just want to be able to share that with other kids and, you know, really teach my students the importance of leading a physically active and healthy lifestyle,” Browning said.

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