By Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor
Depending on your age, some gym classes ranged from dodgeball to what felt like just an extra recess.
Those days are long gone.
“Human targeting games are kind of a thing of the past,” Sheboygan South phy ed teacher Peter Toutenhoofd said. “The other thing is, as soon as you’re out in dodgeball, you’re eliminated. So what are you doing in phy ed class other than sitting on a bench?
“The paradigm shift of good, quality education, those people – including myself – are looking to put the education back in physical education and get rid of the whole gym class label because parents still question you when you grade on stuff that matters.
“So all this education goes into it, and often times, parents will say ‘what’s going on? I thought you just showed up, changed clothes, and got credit for class.’”
No wonder Toutenhoofd, a 1997 South graduate who is also the boys swim coach, was selected in October as the Secondary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Health and Physical Education Association.
“To be honored by people who do what you do and they say, ‘we get it, that’s pretty awesome you’re doing that for your students,’” he said.
Toutenhoofd’s side job is pretty awesome, too.
He is a beer vendor at Lambeau Field and says he has been a Green Bay Packers fan since Tecmo Super Bowl came out for Nintendo.
“I would watch the Packer games when they were terrible and turn it off at halftime, play it on my video game to try to get me some sort of vengeance and then turn the game back on,” Toutenhoofd said. “Every once in awhile they had made a comeback. For the most part, prior to Brett Favre, they were losing a lot of games.”
While teaching at South, a coworker was already a beer vendor at the stadium, so Toutenhoofd told him to get him some tickets.
“He’s like, ‘we don’t get any benefits. Are you kidding me? But you can come work,’” Toutenhoofd said.
So he applied, got the job within two weeks and currently is in his seventh season flinging beers.
But being a phy ed teacher is Toutenhoofd’s claim to fame.
He says he wanted to be one since the fifth grade because of Fred Engelhardt at James Madison Elementary School.
“He kept it fun, he kept it physical and I know the typical student wants to go to phy ed class to have fun, but you could see the learning taking place,” Toutenhoofd said. “And so I had this idea in my head that I was going to go to school and play games all day, and have fun with it.
“I don’t even know when, within my teaching career, I realized that there’s a huge problem out there. There’s been a paradigm shift over the past 18 years since I’ve been in education … where phy ed class became more than gym teachers and gym class, and turned into an educational class.
“I definitely helped lead that change in our district, to make sure we’re giving kids skills and qualities that when they exit the halls in high school that they hopefully have a better way to stay physically fit for the millions of reasons. From health care to insurance rates going up to everything else. I’ve kind of become that guy who builds relationships with kids and then sneaks in the this-is-why-this-is-important type stuff.”
According to the press release, recipients of the award must conduct a quality physical education program as reflected by standards using various teaching methodologies, serve as a positive role model for the profession, participate in professional development opportunities, and provide professional leadership through presentations, leadership, and writing.
Toutenhoofd’s specialty is adventure education and strength training through which he presents numerous opportunities to integrate community into the classroom.
The release adds he has done an education piece for Outdoor Wisconsin on TV, helped his students sail on Lake Michigan through the SEAS program, acted as a PEP Director and coordinates the high school volunteers for a collaborative SASD 50 Million Strong endeavor.
His classroom is driven by standards and infused with authentic assessments such as a field trip to Wisconsin Dells where students have to set up tents, cook, climb, and hike in teams.
I wonder if any students ask him for any Packers tickets. He says pretty much everyone else does.
“If someone wants to go to a game, they’ll ask if they can get tickets,” Toutenhoffd said. “It’s the same answer (his coworker) gave me, ‘you can come work with us.’”