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2021 Brainly Educator of the Year

Many educators asked this simple question when facing the uncertainty this school year: How?

How would teachers deliver quality education while battling with a global pandemic? Amanda Matney, physical education teacher at Senior High knew that innovation was necessary. Physical restrictions and limited supplies were just some of the challenges that were presented. 

“We definitely had to reevaluate how we taught,” she said. 

The frustration of these challenges was met with optimism. Perseverance, constantly communicating with students and trying new approaches while quickly eliminating ones that didn’t work helped her find new ways to enjoy the world she does. It is this intention and focus that led to Amanda Matney being Brainly’s 2021 Physical and Mental Health Educator of the Year.

Brainly is an online academic resource center for students to ask questions and receive responses from certified educators online. Matney provides the site to her students for research purposes. Her nomination was student-led. 

“She always stays positive even during this time with COVID going on and pushes herself to meet her goals. She is a wonderful teacher and friend,” wrote her nominator. 

Her nomination was then placed on Brainly’s website for voting, which was open to the public for 30 days. 

In her second year with the district and ninth overall, Matney says the curriculum of physical education is more than just exercising your body. This school year presented many students with challenges of mental health. She was able to discuss and provide practices of how moving your body can play an active role in brain function and overall wellness. During one week-long lesson, Matney gave her students a list of 20 activities where they could choose five to complete, one per day. Students were then asked to reflect on it in writing at the end of the week. She says students reported increased positive attitudes. 

“They said things like, ‘this made me feel really good, it made me want to get out of bed.”

Matney says having more one-on-one time with students and being able to talk more about fitness, mental health and lifestyle practices are parts of the curriculum and experiences from COVID-19 that she looks forward to continuing. 

Prizes for her award include: $500 DonorsChoose donation towards the project of her choice, $250 gift card towards educational supplies, Active Minds VAR Classroom Toolkit and a Brainly Teacher account. Matney has started to brainstorm with her colleagues to determine where the resources will be best utilized.

“It will all go back to the students.”

Matney often has students stop by her office to talk about social situations and other personal aspects of their life. She has been able to show students how physical education fits into their mental health and have conversations that lead to trust.

“It makes me feel honored that they feel that way about me.”

To learn more about Brainly, visit their website at www.brainly.com

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