Durham school uses adapted physical ed to help students adjust


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s a concept that takes physical education and turns it into a tool to help special needs students when they are outside the classroom.

Durham Public Schools has used this approach for decades.

But, one teacher is getting some very special recognition.

When CBS North Carolina visited Little River Elementary, we didn’t see a traditional PE class.

There was no basketball, baseball or track and field.

What we did see however, were a group of students learning how to become more agile, balanced and able to adjust to life’s daily routines.

“So they can be functional members of this community and not fall into people, learn personal space and learn how to do physical activities outside of the school community,” said special needs teacher Nicole Heath.

Lara Brickhouse added “and incorporate literacy and cross curricular instruction. So kind of duplicating what occupational therapists are working on and speech language pathologists and collaborating and working together with them.”

Earlier this year, Brickhouse was awarded National Adapted PE Teacher of the Year by the Society of Physical Educators.

Fellow teachers say Lara connects in a special way to each and every student.

But, Brickhouse shies away from taking any credit.

She says every other special needs educator and PE teacher she works with deserves the same recognition.

“It makes everyone else around her care just as much as she does. She’s very inspiring,” says Heath.

Brickhouse says it’s the students who are the real inspiration.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that special. I just feel like I’m doing what’s right. And I treat these students and everyone that I teach as if they were my own and how I would want my child to be treated and I think that’s important.”

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