Mrs Hayes’s creativity in adaptive PE gives students a voice: Teacher of the Month

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ST CHARLES, Ill -- WGN’s Teacher of the Month belongs to that special breed of educators who takes students with special needs off the sidelines and eases them into the game. Shari Hayes is an adaptive physical ed instructor at St Charles North High School in suburban St Charles. Tenth grader Jack McGraw is one of her students. It was jack who brought her to our attention.

Jack McGraw: “Mrs Hayes is the most fantastic teacher in the world. She’s always thinking of ways for her students to participate.”

Mrs Shari Hayes, March Teacher of the Month: “I know Jack has a real love of sports and activities, and I want to give him those experiences.”

Jack McGraw: “She is the first PE teacher that lets me fully participate.”

Mrs Hayes: “For me in adaptive PE, I want to make sure that all my kids get a chance to participate and they also get a say in what they are doing. So if they want to play a particular sport or activity they get a voice. They choose. “

And Mrs Hayes gets creative.

Mrs Hayes: “We are going to try to play soccer. We usually let the chair itself hit the ball under his feet and not fly away from the wheels of his chair.”

Jack has cerebral palsy. He’s confined to a wheel chair, doesn’t speak but he hears well and he uses the echo point eye gazer to communicate. He tells us that he likes sports and always wanted to participate and watching other kids do what he could not do … hurt.

Jack McGraw: “It was very painful.”

But Jack's off the sidelines now, and Shari Hayes is getting all the credit.

Mrs Hayes: “Jack is pretty special. So it was a real big honor for me that he would take the time to not only think of me when he has such great teachers in this building, but he would think so highly of me that he would nominate me.”

In honor of her innovative work, Mrs Hayes was named our March Teacher of the Month and received one thousand dollars from award sponsor Saint Xavier University.

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