Alumna receives Michigan Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award

Dec. 3, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Merill DeRose, (B.A.'07, physical education and health, M.A.'10, adapted physical education) was recently named the Michigan Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) Michigan. DeRose is a third-generation teacher in her twelfth year as adaptive physical education teacher in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. She works with 6-12th grade students, most of whom are part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Cognitive Impairment (CI) programs. She has also taught at the elementary level, worked one-on-one with students needing extra help during the PE class time and has worked with adult ASD and CI programs working on recreational exercise.

“Winning this award means a lot. As a teacher, it makes you feel honored to know your peers are noticing what great things you are doing. It also validates all the time you put into planning lessons and building relationships with students and staff,” shared DeRose.

She is passionate about giving her students a similar experience in PE class as their general education peers and also tries to make sure her students are having fun. “When students are having fun and smiling they are going to be more engaged and enjoy movement more. My main goal in all my classes is to get my students moving as much as possible!” 

During her time at Western she learned there is always room for growth and was grateful to have professors and mentor teachers that always pushed her to be better and do better. Her advice for future teachers, “you are going to make mistakes and THAT'S OK! Teachers try to be perfect and you will learn very quickly that is impossible. You will have days where you think your lesson is going to be great and then you totally bomb it. THAT'S OK. I always reflect and think how I can make things better. Every day is a new day so don't let something continue to replay in your head. When you know better, you do better!”

She also adds, “Go BRONCOS!”