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Mr. Shoe and the Rising Stars

Mr. Shoe and the Rising Stars.

No, that’s not the name of your crazy uncle’s sonically challenged garage band that played exactly one (mercifully short) gig in the summer of 1985.

Just call the above the coda for life in the spring of 2020, for anyone associated with Suncrest Elementary School.

“Mr. Shoe,” is Ben Schueler, Suncrest Elementary’s kinetic teacher of physical education.
Of late, he’s been taking his workouts to driveways and residential streets near you, and he’ll step back in, shortly.

Meanwhile, the “Rising Stars,” so-named by Principal Douglas Gaither, are the fifth-graders ready to move on, after the pandemic took over the cool table in the cafeteria.

Teachers, administrators and staffers said goodbye to the class Wednesday in the parking lot of the school on Collins Ferry Road.

Students and their parents motored down the bus lanes to whoops, waves and cheers, in the drive-by celebration.

Gaither dubbed it, the “Rising Star Ceremony,” a four-wheeled, social-distancing farewell for a class bound for middle school.

“I’m always looking for the silver lining,” said Gaither, who began his career as an art teacher in Maryland.

He found it in the dark clouds of the pandemic.


And, intellectual spirit.

“Our teachers turned it on a dime,” he said.

“It was amazing what our kids could do.”

The fifth-graders, especially.

Twin sisters Caroline and Claire Kendzerski took to it without a hall pass.

“I liked all the projects we had to create,” Claire said.

“It was interesting how they put everything together with Chromebooks,” Caroline said, referring to the take-home laptops issued by the district.

Ron Beckner agreed, and he’s not even a student there.

His daughter, Peyton, is, though.

And Peyton’s mom and the woman he’s married to, Kelly Beckner, teaches first grade there.

Pre-pandemic, Beckner observed his wife in her classroom on several occasions.
That was different, though.

The door, the couch and the metabolic heart rate

Watching her stir the ingredients of the recipe for the lesson plan, he said, has been an education.

“Teachers work hard,” he said.

“We have a room we use for an office, and when she goes in and shuts the door, that means she’s recording a video for her class.”

Which is another lesson, her husband, the now-apt pupil said, laughing.

“You don’t open the door. You don’t go near the door.”

There is, however, a built-in snag to distance learning.

It’s, well … distant.

“I’d rather be around people,” fifth-grader and student council president Alexander Bolarinwa said.

Which is why Ben Schueler — Mr. Shoe — laced it up last month.

“I got tired of shooting videos and sitting on my couch,” he said.

Don’t get him wrong: Videos are indispensible for history teachers and math teachers and the instructors who have to make science sing.

But for physical education?

Pass the chips, he said.

You can take it with you

Four weeks ago, he began the personal delivery of classes to the masses.

Maybe not “masses.”

The PE teacher would pedal his bicycle to a neighborhood in the Suncrest Elementary attendance area.

Workouts ensued, for handfuls of socially distanced youngsters, their parents and the occasional Beagle who just liked bringing his game to the game.

Stretches. Running in place. Knee-bends.

Anything to the get the now-quarantined denizens of Suncrest Elementary moving.

Sly, little factoids from the worlds of history, art, math and whatever else might apply to the exercise or the muscle group were dropped in, also.

A teacher said he wanted to make his subject fun and relatable.

A principal said he more than succeeded.

“That’s Ben,” Gaither said.

Dropping another shoe?

Wednesday was the last of the workouts for the school year.

Mr. Shoe, however, might again put his soul where his sole is, to stretch the workouts through the summer.

“We’ll see what happens with COVID-19,” Schueler said.

Gaither said he enjoyed seeing such lessons in adaptability.

Harlyn Nelson quickly raised her hand
— as she knew the answer too.

“We learned different ways of doing the same thing,” the fifth-grader said.

“And now we get to take it with us.”

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