Detroit physical education eacher navigates pandemic with charity assist


Detroit – A white board in the David Ellis Academy gym hangs on the wall.

And in time.

It details the planned physical education activities on March 12, 2020 – the final day Ronda Brodsky taught physical education and health to pre-school through eighth grade public charter school in Detroit.

Like countless educators during the pandemic, Brodsky had to make the adjustment to virtually teach her students.

But unlike many of her colleagues, her job is to get children to move – a task that becomes more difficult when they have to stand in front of a screen at the same time.

“It was very difficult for me and I know a lot of them because I’m not one who still sits well,” said Brodsky. “To tell me to sit in front of a computer now, I ask, ‘OK, what do I do now?'”

For assistance, Brodsky reached out to the CATCH Global Foundation, a charity that provides free teacher training to qualified schools in Michigan.

“Hopefully we’ll get back to our new normal sometime next fall or whenever COVID is in the rearview mirror,” said Abby Rose, program manager at CATCH Global Foundation. “But right now these PE teachers need some good kind of best practices and strategies.”

Ronda Brodsky, physical education and health teacher at David Ellis Academy, is leading an exercise class via Zoom from her home in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan on Monday, February 8, 2021.

Student physical activity, which comes with a number of benefits, has declined during the pandemic and schools have made efforts to help children maintain active lifestyles.

Physical education teachers have an added challenge due to the active nature of their curriculum in adapting their classes to remote and / or hybrid learning environments.

This is where the CATCH Global Foundation comes in. The nonprofit brings resources to schools in underserved areas that otherwise might not be able to afford such a program, said Rose, who added that more than 10,000 schools use some form of CATCH.

Brodsky used the virtual teacher training, which will continue until the end of the current school year.

One of the main tips Brodsky picked up was a scavenger hunt game where she counts down from three and instructs her students to find something round or a stuffed animal in her house and rush back to her computer.

This image from a video shows an empty gym at the David Ellis Academy in Detroit on Monday, February 8, 2021.

“It brings you up and down so you get more of the anaerobia, but it also gets you going,” said Brodsky, who also remotely guides her students in traditional exercises like jumping jacks and push-ups.

For Deion Hollis, Brodsky’s physical education is one of the highlights of his school day.

“I really like it,” the Ellis Academy fifth grade student said on a weekday just before signing up to greet his teacher. “Because it’s difficult to sit in a chair all day.”


Dusty Kennedy