By our Smarty friends at First Tee of Greater Charlotte
When you think of some of the most fun and rewarding jobs, Physical Education teacher comes to mind. Local CMS PE teacher, Cheryl Feeney, would definitely agree. The First Tee of Greater Charlotte is a proud partner of CMS in that we provide each elementary school with equipment like balls, clubs, cones, and much more along with curriculum to teach The First Tee Life Skills Experience. We are grateful for the PE teachers who work each day to coach students in both athletic skills and life skills. In light of that gratitude, we’d like to highlight Coach Cheryl Feeney who currently teaches at Cotswold and Dilworth Elementary.
Cheryl, you have an extensive and impressive background in athletics. Could you share that?
Originally from Indiana, I received my B.S. Degree in Physical Education/ Health Ed major with a Coaching minor at Ball State University. I have been fortunate to have taught and coached for over 30 years in Indiana, Florida, and North Carolina. I received my M.S. In Sports Administration from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, and this is when I began to make an impact on more students’ lives in many sports including golf. I came (to Charlotte) in 1999 as the Assistant Director of Athletics for CMS.
After being named the first Athletic Director of Ardrey Kell High School in 2006, all of us at AK and community built a strong foundation for our students in academics and athletics, specifically in that order. In June 2014, I stepped away from being athletic director in order to being able to do other things of interest and have time to do them. I am currently teaching Physical Education at Cotswold and Dilworth Elementary Schools, and enjoy helping the students love PE! Last fall, I volunteered one day a week to work with Jim Skibbens at The First Tee program at Charles T. Myers. It was so rewarding, but more importantly, I could see each child grow and become more confident in him/herself.
What do you enjoy about teaching physical education?
For me, it was the only subject I wanted to teach as I loved how I felt being in shape, learning a new skill, being challenged, and the competitiveness in the games we were taught. There are so many life skills we learn in sports.
What were your initial thoughts when you heard that you were going to teach The First Tee curriculum?
I love the opportunity to introduce my students to a new sport or experience. As there is always apprehension to putting a club in a young child’s hands, but the lessons are packed with safety techniques. It is worth the set up and time as it is a great lifetime sport, and anyone can learn the basics.
Have you seen an improvement in your student’s behavior or character since teaching The First Tee Life Skills Experience?
Oh yes. I have seen them being more responsible with equipment and their peers. We have also used The First Tee vocabulary for literacy including 9 Core Values.
Which core value do you find your students connect to most?
I think Honesty as they need to know that in golf, as in life, you need to be honest in things you do.
You not only teach during the school year, but you volunteer as well. Tell us about your experience donating your time as a volunteer coach to The First Tee.
It was so wonderful to see how the lessons were prepared and teaching them for 6-8 weeks. You could see the progress of each child in that amount of time.
What are you most looking forward to regarding this year’s Champions Challenge in which your students get to compete with other student athletes from CMS?
Being there last year, our student had so much fun performing the skills and meeting the other students. She was shy, but stood up to name a Core Value and read its meaning. I was so proud of her, as were her parents who also came to watch.
What advice would you give to a colleague if he/she were hesitant in teaching The First Tee curriculum?
Go for it! The students will love it, and if they are doing well, bring out the wedges!!!!
What advice would you give a parent who was hesitant in getting their child involved with golf?
By having programs like The First Tee for all ages and skill levels, having them try out new things especially when they are so available in the Charlotte area is a plus and I tell them to take advantage of this and all it has to offer. I especially appreciate the life skills this program teaches, not just physical skills. I have witnessed a young freshman at our high school turn into a well-spoken “spokesperson” for The First Tee program, and I couldn’t be more proud.
What advice would you give a child who may be struggling with golf at first?
Teaching from experience, just keep trying as with anything, the more you do it, the better you get. Plus, to walk around some of the most beautiful courses and places outside is so cool!