CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance has named Manor Heights Elementary P.E. teacher Nathan Vondra as its Elementary Teacher of the Year, the Natrona County School District announced Wednesday.
“The WAHPERD Elementary Teacher of the Year award recognizes members for outstanding teaching in adapted physical education, health education, recreation, dance education, and physical education at the elementary level. The WAHPERD is committed to providing assistance and support while empowering its membership to initiate, develop, and conduct programs in educating the public about the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle,” the association said.
For the past 15 years, Vondra has worked to provide an outstanding learning environment for Manor Heights students, the district said.
“Mr. Vondra is an exceptional teacher. Our students enjoy going to class because Mr. Vondra makes learning fun and invigorating. He challenges his students to not only stay physically fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle but also to be good citizens and leaders in their school and community. He is a leader in our school and works with great enthusiasm and positivity. He is admired and respected by all,” Principal Kent Thompson said.
Vondra is quick to credit the success of his program to the students he works with daily.
“The students are my motivation/inspiration. They deserve the best of the best; this is what I try to provide for them. I work hard to continue to grow as an educator and find new and innovative ways to motivate them. The slogan for my program at Manor Heights is ‘kids learning and loving to move and play!’ This is what I hope to achieve every day,” he said.
In addition to teaching physical education, Vondra works to support student learning, leadership, and success by spearheading community service and enrichment activities for students, staff and school families. He plays a key role in organizing school-wide activities such as the recent food drive supporting Wyoming Food for Thought and the Manor Heights “Jumping Jaguars” team and its annual tradition of supporting Special Olympics Wyoming. Last year, the “Jumping Jaguars” donated over $15,000 to Special Olympics Wyoming and received an award for the most jumpers on a team.
“A teacher’s job is to make students feel safe and to give them the skills they need to be successful, contributing adults. Our students are learning so many important life skills when participating in community service projects; they might not even be aware of it until they are out of school and making a difference in their community,” Vondra said. “Educational excellence to me means looking at the students in front of me and using my education and background to give them the best education possible so they can, in turn, be active and contributing citizens. My daily goal is to profess a hard-working, ‘yes-man’ attitude — sprinkled with a little humor.”
Manor Heights Elementary is committed to working together as a learning community of students, families, and staff to achieve high levels of learning for all students so they will succeed in school and in life.