The world is Meyers’ classroom

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at TeamUSA.org:

Elana Meyers is an athlete through and through. In addition to winning a bronze medal in bobsleigh at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, she also played NCAA Division I softball at George Washington University and went on to play professionally for the Mid-Michigan Ice. However, despite her athletic prowess, she has one thing non-sport related that she has remained passionate about: education.

“You know, lives are long and athletics are only a small fraction of that, so you have to have something else,” Meyers said, “So, I think as athletes and Olympians in particular, we can serve as role models in that area…I think I’ll always be involved in education.”

Meyers’ path to involvement in education was unique. After graduating from college and devoting herself to bobsleigh, she was looking for a job. A friend mentioned the local school district was looking for substitute teachers, so she applied. Before long, Meyers was in front of the classroom, teaching children a variety of subjects ranging from literature to math. Science, though, is where her passion lies.

“Sciences…are my favorite because I was an exercise science major and I love science,” Meyers explained, “There’s a lot of crossover and a lot of applications [to bobsleigh] because we’re very physics-based.”
In addition to studying exercise science in college, Meyers spent a lot of her time working with children. Over the years, she coached both high school softball – drawing on her experience playing in college and professionally – and soccer. Although she had not considered teaching as her major, she found herself fitting naturally into the substitute teaching role.

Even more, she found that her time as an athlete helps her make concepts in the classroom come alive for her students.

“I tried to explain to them how miles per hour works,” she said, “So, I’ll explain to them how fast we go in a bobsled and I’ll also explain to them how the fraction [works]: if you have one hour over X amount of miles you’re covering, that’s how you calculate miles per hour…I’ll also use the dimensions of our sled, the conversion from kilograms to pounds, and things that we have to do everyday in bobsled to help them learn their math skills.”

Even before her substitute teaching gig, Meyers had plenty of opportunities to practice relating athletics and academics. Her sister, a sixth grade math teacher, would invite her into the classroom on multiple occasions to be a guest lecturer, using bobsleigh as a teaching tool.

Having an Olympian in the classroom, however, is not always a smooth ride.

“Usually they end up coming up to my desk and, instead of asking for help, they start asking me questions,” she says, “They’ll ask me a question about the Olympics or about bobsled…but I try and make the focus on getting the work done first and then we can talk.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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