The same quote has been sitting on Rymfire Elmentary School PE teacher Robert Cerasi’s desk for 20 years. “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or what kind of car I drove. ... But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child,” it states, paraphrasing a quote by former “Scouting” magazine managing editor Forest Witcraft.
"From my struggles, I have always wanted to give back. ... I feel that every student has value, and it has been my number one goal to make a positive impact on each student that I teach."
— ROBERT CERASI, Rymfire Elementary School Teacher of the Year
As a PE teacher, Cerasi has an advantage that most other teachers don’t: He sees each student every school day.
“I am able to touch the lives of all of my students each and every day,” he wrote in his application materials for the Teacher of the Year award. “I believe in building strong relationships. ... I want them to be successful, and it’s my job to make them feel cared for and appreciated.”
Cerasi has been teaching at Rymfire since it opened in 2006 and is head coach and director for the Rymfire Elementary Running Club. He’s been teaching for 23 years, and created Rymfire’s physical education curriculum.
School hadn’t come easy for him when he was a boy.
“I had to work extremely hard to overcome my struggles,” he wrote. “From my struggles, I have always wanted to give back. ... I feel that every student has value, and it has been my number one goal to make a positive impact on each student that I teach.”
To make sure students are progressing, he has his younger students demonstrate skills like galloping, hopping, skipping and running at set intervals throughout the year, while older students are assessed in running, pushups, sit-ups and agility. Older students also learn sports like floor hockey, basketball, soccer and pickleball.
To integrate broader learning into his classes, he’s worked alongside a health teacher and partnered with nurses at AdventHealth to create a “Mission Fit” program teaching second-grade and a fourth-grade students about nutrition, exercise and healthy life choices.
He’s spearheaded the school’s field days, which have involved more than 1,000 students.
“My biggest strength is how I am able to motivate my students to work as hard as they can, while students still have an enjoyable experience,” he wrote. “My high energy and passion is contagious, and it encourages my students to do their very best.”