Clintonville teacher gets national honor

Petermann gets national PE teacher award

Karen Petermann, of Clintonville, was recently named the National Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America.

Petermann teaches at Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School in Clintonville.

The award from the Society of Health and Physical Educators was presented at its 132nd national convention in Boston earlier this month.

The award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching performance at the elementary school level and the ability to motivate today’s youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.

Petermann, a physical education teacher in the Clintonville School District for more than 29 years, vied with five other district winners for the 28th annual award.

In all, six national Teachers of the Year were selected in the areas of adapted physical education, dance education, school health, elementary physical education, middle school physical education and high school physical education.

“From the first day I met Karen, I was amazed by her commitment to our students, our staff, and our community,” said Kris Strauman, former principal of at the elementary school. “In the 17 years supervising Karen, there was never a single student who didn’t love physical education.”

Petermann delivers a standards-based curriculum, using modifications and differentiated activities to meet the needs of all students, regardless of skill level, learning style or disability.

“The learning environment in my classroom is nurturing and safe, both physically and emotionally,” Petermann said. “My students develop a sense of pride and confidence that readily extends to the hallway, other classes and the playground. I challenge them to be leaders and role models in all aspects of their day.”

Petermann has helped develop a culture of wellness at her school and in her district by initiating activities that involve the entire staff, student body and community.

The running club she started began as an elementary school group, but has since grown to include middle school and high school students, as well as parents and community members. Now in its sixth year, the club has more than 120 runners — ranging in age from 5 to 71 — who participate in monthly 5K races.

“Tears and goosebumps are common when proudly watching our kids cross the finish lines, accomplishing something they once thought impossible,” Petermann said. “It’s a joy to witness families adopting healthy lifestyles.”

Petermann’s professional affiliations include SHAPE America and Wisconsin Health and Physical Education. In addition, she has been an American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart coordinator for 28 years, and she is affiliated with and supports the Fuel Up to Play 60 program in her school.

She received her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s degree in education with a technology emphasis from Viterbo University in La Crosse.