Alumni Success Stories | Physical Education | Kent State University

Alumni Success Stories

Jen HaneyJen Haney

What degrees have you earned? Where are they from?
Health and Physical education at Kent State University and master in art of teaching at Marygrove College out of Detroit MI

Where are you from originally? Where are you currently residing?
I'm originally from Greene, New York and I currently reside in Rootstown Ohio

What inspired you to become a physical education teacher?
My high school Physical education teachers Mrs. Barrows and Mrs. Bromley (they were my coaches for field hockey and softball as well) I was also inspired by just a love for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle!

What is your favorite part about being an educator?
In Education teachers can have a positive influence on students' lives in many different ways. Teaching a new skill, information, or just providing an opportunity for growth. Building relationships with students and student athletes is one of my favorite things about education. I enjoy seeing students challenge themselves and reach a new level of confidence. I enjoy seeing students succeed and feel good about the experience! My teachers and coaches were very influential in my life growing up and this was my way of giving back.

What did winning the state and national high school field hockey Coach of the Year awards mean to you?
I am not sure there is a word that truly describes the feeling. I was absolutely speechless. This is something coaches dream of for a lifetime. It is still hard for me to believe that I am placed in a category with the former national coaches of the year. I also believe that this Award is not attainable unless you have an unbelievable support system. The support from my family, assistant coaches, players and administrators all made this possible.

What are some lessons you learned at Kent State University which you have been able to apply to your teaching career?
Being a student athlete for KSU (field hockey and softball) was one of the best experiences of my life. It gave me a deeper understanding of dedication and hard work. It taught me that a team can become your family and the relationships you build will last forever no matter how many years go by. It also helped shaped who I am today. The experience of being a student athlete has brought a great amount of happiness and pleasure to my life. I have learned a great deal about leadership and how it can be both positive and negative and I hope to always be a positive leader for the student's I teach or coach.

In the education field I must say I feel proud to say I graduated from KSU with PE health degree. Coming from this top program I was very well prepared and very knowledgeable in my subject area. KSU teaches you so much more than just content! It's about the value of physical education in schools. Dr. Mitchell was my advisor/teacher and he was so influential in this philosophy that I hold close to me today. I am so thank I had the opportunity to work with him.

Do you have any advice you would like to give to current KSU students?
College can be very difficult at times and you may feel like it's time to throw in the towel, or your wishing that it would be over fast. DON'T!!! College is the best time of your life. Make the best of your education and ENJOY it while you can. Cherish the friendships and memories you have created because you will wish it back as soon as it is over. And as always GO FLASHES!!

George RobertsGeorge Roberts

George Roberts, a 6'0", 195 lb. first basemen for Kent State in 2013, and the 26th round selection of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has garnered quite a bit of recognition in the Kent State community over the past year through his accomplishments on the baseball field. Roberts is a 2013 graduate of Kent State and is now playing Minor League Baseball. However, in dealing with elite student-athletes such as Roberts, people often forget the first part of that term, "student".

Roberts, a Summerhill, Pa., native and human movement studies major, has always dreamed of being a professional baseball player. However, while Roberts has worked extremely hard in the weight room and in the batting cages to get to where he is today, he has still managed to maintain his role as a student-athlete. As a student in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Roberts has had to learn to balance his academics and athletics in his daily life.

This is a problem many student-athletes run into when making the transition from high school to college.

"It was pretty difficult at first, especially as a freshman," Roberts said, "You have a lot more responsibility."

With being a student-athlete, time management skills are essential to success. Also, skills that are acquired through time in the classroom can also play a major factor in performance on the field and vice versa.

"I've learned that hard work and dedication can really take you far in life and your career," Roberts said. "My time spent in the College of EHHS has helped me to work hard on the playing field and even harder in the classroom and continues to help me in my professional career."

Roberts said that the skills that have been instilled in him throughout his college education play a huge factor in how he conducts himself as a professional.

In regards to the transition from college life to life as a professional baseball player, Roberts said that it’s more independent and you have to rely on yourself more. "It's more business than college because it is your career," he said.

Roberts said that as his career plays out, he still has aspirations to step foot on a big league diamond. He said that after the conclusion of his playing career, he would like to give back to the game of baseball by helping young players pursue their dreams and become better athletes and people. As spring draws closer, Roberts is preparing for another season in the Diamondbacks organization and hopes to come closer to achieving his goal of playing in the Major Leagues.

Stacey Slackford BarnesStacey Slackford Barnes

What degree(s) have you earned? Where are they from?
Bachelor’s Degree – Kent State University – Physical Education (K-12)
Master’s Degree – Kent State University – Health Education & Promotion (7-12)

Where are you from originally? Where are you currently residing?
I am originally from Louisville, Ohio, which is about 45 minutes south of Kent. Currently, I reside in Jackson Township located in North Canton. I am married with one son that is 8 years old and two stepsons that are 15 and 12 years old.

What inspired you to become a physical education teacher?
I knew I wanted to work with young kids and I enjoy participating in all types of physical activities/sports, so I looked into the Physical Education Teacher program at Kent State. I had a fabulous Physical Education teacher in high school and he was extremely motivating and fair to everyone. I loved going to his class.

What is your favorite part about being an educator?
I enjoy being able to work with children and have the opportunity to watch them grow over the course of a school year.

What did winning the OHIO Elementary PE Teacher of the Year award mean to you?
It was very humbling knowing that I was nominated by two of my peers and that I was chosen out of many elementary physical education teachers. I am very lucky to be able to wake up every day and go to work doing something that I absolutely LOVE. I cannot imagine every doing anything else.

What are some lessons you learned at Kent State University which you have been able to apply to your teaching career?
To be quite honest… ALL of them! The professors I had a Kent State were very hands-on and instructed us to teach that way as well. As professionals, we are always learning, so I use my prior lessons and build on them to benefit my students.

Do you have any advice you would like to give to current KSU students?
Follow your heart and do what you love! Never give up! Keep learning!

Krista RomanceKrista Romance

What degree(s) have you earned? Where are they from?
Bachelor's Degree, Physical Education, Kent State University, 2003
Master's Degree, Sport and Recreation Management, Kent State University, 2008

Where are you from originally? Where are you currently residing?
I am originally from Stow, and graduated from Stow Munroe Falls High School in 1999. Currently, I reside in Silver Lake.

What inspired you to become a physical education teacher?
My first experience as a teacher was in high school when I taught swim lesson as a lifeguard in the summers. I loved to see my little swim students float for the first time, or put their heads in the water for the first time. Their faces and pure excitement were priceless. Teaching swim lessons came very natural to me and I truly loved watching my students succeed at swimming, so when it was time to seriously consider my future profession, physical education seemed like a perfect fit. I would be able to combine my passion for teaching and my love for kids with my desire to be physically active. To this day, I still think that I have the best job in the world.

What is your favorite part about being an educator?
My favorite part of being a teacher is watching the students grow, both in the gym, and into young adults. I love to see student success. Often times, high school students hate physical education because of either their experiences to this point or because they have not found success. I love being able to show them ways to be successful, whether it is at a specific skill, being part of a game or team, or even as leaders in a physically active setting. As they develop their skills in my class as freshmen, I can start to see the growth from the stereotypical freshmen student to teammates and leaders, and eventually into seniors, choosing their colleges and majors. It brings me great joy to know that I had the opportunity to help each student be successful in some way during their growth here at the high school level.

What did winning the Streetsboro Educator of the Year award mean to you?
Winning Educator of the Year was a neat experience. I felt that it not only represented all of the hard work that went into implementing the new PE assessments into my curriculum, as well as assisting the other PE teachers in the district, but it also represented where PE is heading. It shined a little spotlight on what I actually do in my classroom, which was a reminder to many that "rolling out the ball" is a thing of the past. The students' views of PE now, and not just in my district, are really being challenged and expectations have been raised. Our students are leaving our classes with a new set of tools, as they relate to meaningful health-related fitness as well as sports-specific skills and games, while also incorporating technology at all levels. It really is so cool to see these students apply these skills, and as a result, it has never made me more proud to be teaching physical education. So, to me, it felt great to win this award, but I also had a sense of pride to be able to represent this new PE for all physical education teachers.

What do you feel is the best way to motivate students to live an active lifestyle?
The best motivation is student success. When they find an activity that they are successful with, they tend to want to continue to do it. Therefore, I am always trying to find ways to make my students successful and find meaning in what it is they are learning so that they will value physical activity. My hope is by finding that value, they will continue with an active lifestyle. I also feel it is important for me to demonstrate a healthy, active lifestyle, so that I can show them what this looks like when an opportunity for activity in a class like physical education is not always available.

What are some lessons you learned at Kent State University which you have been able to apply to your teaching career?
Much of what I do in my gym I learned at KSU, and continue to learn at KSU. Aside from all of the content and methods that I use in my class on a regular basis, one lesson that I learned is to value collaboration and professional development. This does not just occur at the department and school level either. There truly are so many people that assist me in building a great PE program. For example, I am in constant communication with my media specialist and entire technology team. I use them to help create new assignments or new ways for the students to complete current projects. I also have great communication with other PE teachers from surrounding districts, and never hesitate to ask them for new ideas. Much of this can occur at my professional conferences, but it is a very valuable piece to my program. I don't want to ever get "stuck," and by surrounding myself with a team of people to bounce ideas off of, help teach me new technology, and even challenge what I currently do, I can provide my students with the best possible PE program that I can give them.

Do you have any advice you would like to give to current KSU students?
My advice to current KSU students is to be a sponge! Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. When you get out into the "real world," use that knowledge to create a system that works best for you, and don't ever hesitate to try new things either. Education, especially, is always changing, and you will never know the places you can take your students unless you are willing to try.