When it comes to Cranbury School student’s physical well being and health, there is a conductor and leader who has guided them through their years.
Her name is Cathy Elliot.
And she has been the Cranbury School’s physical education teacher and leader for the past 14 years.
She teaches her students about better choices when it comes to physical education and health.
This year her work ethic resulted in a prestigious award.
She was named the school’s 2019 Cranbury School Teacher of the Year.
“When I found out, it was very overwhelming working amongst an amazing staff of really talented teachers. I am a lower key behind the scenes kind of person,” she said. “To be in the spotlight is different for me.”
Elliot found out about being Teacher of the Year on April 15 at a faculty meeting with all of her coworkers.
The Teacher of the Year at the Cranbury School is selected through a selection committee process.
“This is a huge compliment and very overwhelming. I am usually the friendly with everyone and joking around type of person,” she said. “Most of my work is behind the scenes and don’t want any kind of notoriety for it.”
Elliot begins her days at 6 a.m. when she works out at a gym and goes straight from there to the school.
“Being the physical education teacher is the best position to be in. The children love coming to gym especially elementary school students. Our middle school students love it too and also have a lot of energy,” she said. “Getting to show them you are just not an old teacher and just being a positive role model to them in terms of what you are eating and doing in terms of exercise everyday is just great. They know I come in and shower at school five days a week because I come straight from the gym. It is a good way to be role model. It helps them buy into what I am trying to teach them.”
She said her job is everything she loves wrapped in one.
“I have always loved sports growing up. Academics were a main priority in my family. I always loved being around children,” Elliot said. “I babysat as a younger kid and worked camps my whole life. I played three sports in high school, so this field just made sense to me. This job is all of my loves in one.”
She has been teaching Physical Education and Health overall for 21 years, with 14 years at the Cranbury School.
“We teach health here from kindergarten through eighth grade, which is really an amazing experience. Most schools are not able to offer this because of size and how many teachers that they have,” Elliot said. “But our students have a health educator through their time here not just a classroom teacher filling in with lessons.”
She revealed that the physical education lessons are geared towards age appropriateness.
“We know every student in this school, so we know where they are now and where we want to get them. We always make sure every child believes that they can go further from where they are no matter what level they start out at,” Elliot said. “I think it drives our students.”
Elliot’s work ethic has not gone unnoticed by peers.
“Ms. Elliott is a respected teacher and leader who constantly looks for new ways to teach her content. Her rapport with students, work ethic, and collaborative spirit make her an invaluable member of the Cranbury School community,” said Susan Genco, Principal of the Cranbury School.
Elliot said the support she receives from students and staff is top notch.
“The families are amazing they support everything you want to do with their children. If there is an activity we want and can show them how it will benefit the students, the PTO and Education Foundation are just outstanding,” she said.
Elliot may have started her journey as a physical education and health teacher when she was 22, but her love for the job has never waned. She said she loves her job the same way today as she has when she first started.
“I still can’t sit still. I will always try to change whatever is already working. I just tweak it a little each time,” Elliot said.
She said she wants students to always know they are appreciated when they are with her.
“Showing them that their will be hiccups along the way to get to point where you want to be at is important for me. Not every student is an athlete, but every student can do something,” Elliot said. “Making them believe that you will always believe in them I think is the most important thing.”
For Elliot teaching physical education and health to the students of Cranbury is like watching her own children grow up. She said her students continue to be what keep her going and has said she has plenty of years left in the tank.
“They are a part of your family and are not just your students by the time they leave here,” she said.