Destin Elementary has a new PE teacher; Jenna McCrery is ready to get rolling

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

First-time teacher Jenna McCrery at Destin Elementary School is ready to get the ball rolling, literally. 

McCrery, 34, is one of two PE teachers at the school. She will work alongside PE teacher/coach Greg DeVito. 

Jenna McCrery is a first-year PE teacher/coach at Destin Elementary School. She says it is her "dream job."

“I’m very excited and a little bit nervous,” McCrery said. 

Last year she worked as an assistant to DeVito and was able to see how things worked. But now she has stepped into that second PE teacher/coach spot. 

Earlier this week, while other teachers were scurrying around getting their classrooms ready, McCrery and DeVito were busy inflating balls and getting equipment ready. 

McCrery said the PTO was able to get them some new equipment for the school year that kicks off Aug. 10. 

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“So we’ve been cleaning out the old stuff and setting up the new stuff,” she said. “And we’re finding all kinds of treasure in the shed out there.”

The new items include footballs, soccer balls, volleyballs and more. 

Since the PE teachers don’t have a classroom, per se, most of their time with the students will be outside. 

McCrery said they plan to do three-week sessions in which they teach a skill or a sport and then switch groups and move on to a different skill. 

On rainy or cold days, the students will meet in the lunchroom/auditorium. 

“We’ll try to do some health-related topics,” said McCrery, who is a graduate of the University of Illinois.  

But most days, it’s outside. 

“My plan is to have a little bit of a warmup activity, then go into the rules of the game and then get the games going,” she said. 

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After the game, the plan is to have cooldown time for the children and a time of reflection as to what they were doing and process the activity. The teachers might ask questions as to what kind of muscles they used playing the game or how can the game be better, easier or harder? 

Jenna McCrery is a new PE teacher/coach at Destin Elementary School. She will work with coach Greg DeVito.

Do kids look forward to PE class? 

“Yes, most of them do,” McCrery said. “But there are always the ones. But that’s our job to make those ones want to come to PE and learn about being healthy. 

“I was one of those kids,” McCrery admits, noting she wasn’t very athletic as a youth. “I kind of fell into fitness with my husband being in the military.”

McCrery said she learned a lot about fitness from him and just trying to keep their family healthy and on the right track. 

“So, I’ve learned to love it,” she said. 

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Now she’s ready to share that love of fitness with the students. 

“I just enjoy being with the kids. And I like PE because you are with all the kids,” she said, not just one grade. She will be working with kindergarten through fourth-grade students. 

Last year while she was working as an assistant, she said they had a lot of restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. She said they spent a lot of time on the open field and the track. 

“I’m hoping this year we can get a good thing going,” McCrery said. 

She hopes to teach games such as capture the flag, tag games and fitness scavenger hunts, to name a few. 

McCrery said the whole purpose of PE for the students is to teach “them to learn to love fitness and health, and to be able to take the skills we teach them into future grades and life in general.” 

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“I’ve got a lot I want to fit in to this year,” she said. “I’d like to kind of build the program and get kids involved in as many things as they can be … just be active children.”

But most of all she’s just looking forward to being back with the students and trying new things. 

“We want to get some new games out there and help them have fun,” McCrery said. “This is like the dream job and the dream place for me right now. Can’t get much better. I’m ready. I’m excited to get going and get started.”