Though Chris Baumgartner is set to retire at the end of the school year, her impact as a physical education teacher at Teller Elementary School in Denver will long be felt.
Baumgartner, also known fondly as “Diva” has worked in the Denver Public School system for 46 years, 17 of those with Teller Elementary. After joining Teller in 1998 Baumgartner realized that recess time on the playground was very chaotic and it was hard to manage the children during this time. She realized she needed help and she enlisted the children at the school to be the ones to help solve the problem. Thus, the PE Aces program was born.
Baumgartner started the program to give students the responsibility to monitor themselves during recess time and reduce the pandemonium that often ensued when the children were left on the playground with no direction.
PE Aces allows students to have the opportunity to be leaders on the playground and organize activities. Since the program was implemented, Teller Elementary has been able to boast having one of the most efficiently run playgrounds in the area. Students named as “PE Aces” are given a special T-shirt to wear, which signifies their role as leader for that recess period. The children take the responsibility seriously. “They advocate well for others, they play by the rules outside, they really are phenomenal leaders,” said Baumgartner.
Katie Taft, an art teacher at Teller says that her recess duty is much easier now than it was at her previous school due to PE Aces. Students are better behaved and the conflicts are minimal. Now, she says, she gets to enjoy being out with the kids instead of being a referee.
Rose Downs, principal at Teller understands the impact that the program has had at her school and plans to continue with it after Baumgartner retires.