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Local P.E. teachers and coaches reflect on helping kids stay physically fit

Clancy PE Teacher
MT City PE Teachers
EastGate PE Teacher
Central PE Teacher
Posted at 1:01 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 15:01:39-04

HELENA — “P.E. was definitely my favorite subject,” ex Montana Western Bulldog, Savanna Bignell tells MTN. Phys. Ed. teachers around the community show our local pupils not only how to play countless sports, but also how physical activity can benefit your overall health.

Savanna Bignell played basketball for the Capital High Bruins before heading to Dillon, MT in 2016 to finish out her college career. “Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a (P.E.) teacher,” said Bignell, who now works in Montana City.

She collaborates with her co-worker and friend, Derek Jenneskens, who also played sports in high school and college. “(Growing up) A lot of my role models were P.E. teachers and; or coaches so, just having the opportunity to be that for other students,” Jenneskens added when asked about pursuing a career in physical education.

As the 2022/23 school year comes to an end, MTN Sports had the opportunity to meet with a few of the most elite Physical educators in the state of Montana.
Jenneskens and Bignell both student taught in East Helena before making the leap to Montana City Schools. Mr. Jeff Beaver (Central and Warren Elementary schools) is in his 30th year working in the Helena School district while fighting fires in the summertime. “We’re all kind of on the same page on what we’re teaching in case a child may transfer from one school to another, we’re all about teaching the same thing at the same time,” says Beaver.

Tana Fetherston, who also works at multiple schools in the East Helena school district graduated from the University of Montana and has been teaching physical education for the previous 11 years. “The first two years, you’re just kind of surviving and figuring everything out,” says Mrs. Fetherston.

During the weekdays, you can find her doing what she loves at either Eastgate Elementary or Prickly Pear Elementary school, “It was something I’ve always wanted to be and I had a great fifth grade P.E. teacher named Mrs. Storm in Great Falls from Lincoln elementary and she just really made me love it,” added Fetherston, who looks to instill similar beliefs in her young scholars.

Another collegiate athlete in Lindsay Wangerin is currently in her third-year teaching health and physical education in the magnificent town of Clancy, Montana. “Yes, there’s kind of a second-grade legend that I played basketball (in college), but I threw the Javelin in college.” Wangerin still holds the school records at Plentywood High School and NDSU in the javelin.

Though she is prepping for end of the year field day’s, “It’s always so nice to have the kids back, I miss them over summer,” says Coach Wangerin, who doubles as a coach for the Clancy Cougars in a variety of different sports. “You know, I am kind of lucky, P. E’s the,” she hesitates, “The fun class, so they’re always excited to get back and get back into all of the games," she said.

Although celebrating the end of the school year with physical education can seem exciting and fun. Our local PE teachers around the Capital City have to also plan activities that assist in creating exercise-based learning more engaging for students of all ages. Physical education, sports and staying active while attaining positive overall health, What more could you ask for?