Kevin Terry

student on trampoline in PE class
P.E. Teacher Finds New Ways to Connect, Create Opportunities
Posted on 11/01/2021
Student in Whitsitt PE class

In Kevin Terry’s physical education classes at Whitsitt Elementary, a ball bouncing off a wall can light up a target. Scanning a QR code on a tag attached to a fake bird calls up information about owls on an iPad. And many students rollerblade or ride a bike for the first time.  Kevin Terry and student in PE class

“Some of these students don’t get a lot of opportunities outside of school,” Terry said. “So I try to bring those opportunities here.” 

Terry, who is in his 11th year with MNPS, including nine at Whitsitt, has raised more than $60,000 in grant funding to take P.E. to new places at the south Nashville school. The centerpiece is a projection system that turns a gym wall into a picture frame – and even a touchscreen. 

“It’s crazy technology,” Terry said. “We use it every day.” 

On a recent Thursday, second-graders came to the Whitsitt gym excited to continue learning about camping. An animated image of a roaring campfire in a clearing in the woods was projected on the wall, and on the floor were a tent, a make-believe stream with rocks, kiddie pools for fishing, cornhole games, a plastic “fire” with real marshmallows, a toy bow and arrow, and more. A short climbing wall stood across the gym.  

Later in the class period, Terry converted the image on the wall to a series of targets. Students threw small balls at the wall, and every time they hit their target, they earned a point.  student running in darkly lit PE class

When he isn’t teaching or spending time with his wife and two children, Terry regularly travels around the country to referee Major League Soccer games, a side job he’s enjoyed for the past 10 years. (He occasionally has a shorter commute when he officiates Nashville SC games at Nissan Stadium.) It was soccer that brought him to Nashville from Dallas on an athletic scholarship to Lipscomb University, where he played as a midfielder from 2004 until he graduated in 2008.  

An injury prevents Terry from constantly running up and down the field the way he used to, so he serves as an MLS video assistant referee, monitoring replays from multiple angles and letting on-field referees know if they need to take another look at a split-second decision. The day after he and many of his students attended a Nashville SC-Columbus Crew game featuring a controversial call that was overturned following video review (Terry was just a spectator this time), he explained how the process worked and how he would have been in the thick of it if he had been working.  

A former Teacher of the Year and Blue Ribbon Teacher who has dressed up as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Ted Lasso, he said he enjoys building relationships with students and their families and helping them succeed. Not every student can run and jump, but Terry makes sure every child can participate in P.E.  

“If I see a student might need help or a modification, I might change out a piece of equipment or add an additional support so that the student can be successful,” he said. “I create activities in class so that all students, regardless of their ability level, have the opportunity to learn, play, and have fun. If the kids aren’t having fun, I’m not having fun.” 

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