EAST PROVIDENCE — It’s another honor in what has been a lengthy and exemplary career. Donna Rapoza, of the Myron J. Francis Elementary School in Rumford, has been chosen as the Rhode Island Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (RIHPERD) Physical Education Teacher of the Year for her efforts over the last 12 months.
Ms. Rapoza has spent her entire 34-year career in the East Providence School System, the last four years working at the Francis School. The RIPHERD honor adds to the list of awards she’s received in that time, which also includes an Alumni Honor Roll Award from Rhode Island College.
“It makes me proud. I’m proud of the fact that my peers picked me. I’m proud that even after 34 years of teaching I still love what I do,” Ms. Rapoza said during a recent lunch break from instruction.
The criteria for the award includes classroom methodologies, lesson plans and past accomplishments. Ms. Rapoza pointed to the integrated concepts she uses with other teachers at Francis where they coordinate other subjects with physical education as one of her most noteworthy and well-received accomplishments.
“The kids love Phys Ed and they love Ms. Rapoza,” said Eileen Wayland, a Francis School Kindergarten teacher.
Recently Ms. Rapoza and her coworkers devised plans mixing athletics with mathematics, geography and science.
“I collaborate with the teachers to bring what they’re teaching in the classroom to the gym,” Ms. Rapoza explained. “We’ve done math units, units on the continents. We did a whole unit on space. It’s another way of teaching the kids by keeping them active.”
As spry and enthusiastic as ever, there may be even more accolades coming Ms. Rapoza’s way. She has no intention of giving up her position any time soon.
“It’s the children. I love seeing them having fun and learning,” she said. “And I’ve had some great student teachers over the years. I’m getting them ready to take over, preparing them for the future. But not quite yet. I’m still having too much fun. It’s something I’ve worked at my entire life. I’ve put my heart and soul into the job. I love teaching kids.”