Megaera Regan said she did not take a physical education class until she was in high school.
She grew up in Queens, where her elementary and middle schools didn’t offer the class.
But in high school, she was inspired by her coach, Barbara Hoffman, and then realized she wanted to become a physical education teacher.
Regan, who teaches at Manorhaven Elementary School, said Hoffman “totally inspired” her and other students, teaching them that they “are ladies before athletes.”
“After that, I pretty much always wanted to be a physical education teacher,” Regan said.
Last month, the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance named Regan the Nassau County Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year.
“I found this to be a very big honor,” Regan said. “I was thrilled when I found out.”
Regan’s approach to physical education stems from what she learned from Hoffman.
“I tell the kids if you’re going to practice throwing, practice sportsmanship as well,” she said. “That’s one of the most important skills that I think we should value. Through games, I try to teach students attitude and that sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose.”
The Port Washington school district’s physical education curriculum goes beyond traditional methods, trying to reach all kids and find a strength for each student, Regan said.
“You really have the chance to find your passion,” she said. “That’s the wonderful thing about teaching here.”
Regan, who went to Manhasset High School, said she tries to teach students skills they will be able to apply outside of the school.
The fifth-grade students participate in Regan’s basketball program, where she assigns each of them a job. One student is the coach, another is the equipment manager, another the owner or publicity person.
“They all have specific roles,” she said. “It gives them a little real-world experience, which is really exciting to watch. They come up with a team cheer, a poster. We have mascots, the coaches run the drills, trainers run warm-ups. It’s great to watch.”
“Ms. Regan is considered to be a ‘rock star’ to our children and an outstanding role model to everyone at our school,” said Manorhaven Principal Bonni Cohen. “In addition to the energy and leadership she brings every day, Ms. Regan writes numerous grants so that our kids can enjoy a variety of wellness and movement opportunities.”
Regan leads the school’s Mighty Milers Program, a nationwide initiative to encourage running, and started the school’s Early Birds program for students to work out before school.
“This program has caused test scores to improve and has encouraged better focusing in the classroom,” Regan said.
“We are so proud of Ms. Regan for being honored by her peers in the state this way. We know her as an amazing, motivating and trendsetting teacher,” said Stephanie Joannon, the district’s director of health and physical education. “She is just awesome. It is a privilege to have her teaching our children and an honor to know her.”
Regan, who has taught in the Port Washington school district since 1990, said the community values physical education, which makes her job easier.
“The thing I love about the community is that everyone is so on board about physical activity during the school day,” she said. “The whole staff is embracing the culture of being physically active.”