Crestview’s Karen Conder is Wolfforth Chamber’s Educator of the Year
When Karen Conder was growing up on an Iowa farm, there was no time for athletic pursuits.
Instead, Conder went home each day to do chores.
This month, she was honored by the Wolfforth Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture as the Frenship Educator of the Year. She is the physical education teacher at Crestview Elementary School.
“I didn’t even do intramurals,” she said. “When I was in elementary, I loved gymnastics, just tumbling and somersaults and things like that. I loved to run and race.
“I was a cheerleader one year, but that consumed too much time,” she said.
But when she started her college education at York College in Nebraska, she decided to try out for the new volleyball team.
Two years later, Conder had transferred to what was then Lubbock Christian College, which started a volleyball program a year later, and so she was also on the first volleyball team LCC fielded in the late 1970s.
After graduation, she returned to Iowa. But soon Conder, then known as Karen Kauffman, got a call from Lubbock Christian University Coach John Copeland to be the assistant women’s volleyball coach while she obtained her teaching certification.
When she returned to Lubbock, she also met David Conder, the man she would eventually marry. He now teaches physical education at South Plains College in Levelland.
After she obtained her teaching certification at LCU, Conder taught elementary physical education at Lubbock Christian School. She also coached middle school sports and varsity volleyball.
After five years of coaching at Lubbock Christian, she came to the Frenship school district, first as a library aide at Casey Elementary and later as a kindergarten assistant at Crestview Elementary. When the physical education teacher there retired, she became the PE teacher. She’s been in that role for 14 years.
“Coaching was not my area. I enjoyed it, but I would rather play it than coach it. So I pulled myself away from the coaching and went with elementary, and that’s where I like it,” she said.
Conder said she never saw herself as a coach or teacher when she was young.
“The first thing I saw myself doing was art-type things. I like to be creative,” she said. But having decided to teach PE, Conder said she enjoys her career.
“Most of the time, I enjoy it tremendously,” she said.
Teaching PE is challenging, she said, partially because of the class sizes. When she started, a typical class size of elementary kids was around 35 students; now it is around 70.
Conder teaches the 135 minutes of PE per week required by the state of Texas to every student at Crestview.
“I try to work in some of the traditional fundamentals for the basic sports,” she said. “I also like to invent games, to try to come up with some ideas and try them out.”
Recently she built a maze and had her students search for gold, then bring it to a class bank, where they needed to use math skills to count up their loot. She said she regularly incorporates math, social studies, science and directions into her lessons. She also works with her students to encourage them to complete a marathon of 26.2 miles in small increments over the school year.
Conder said academics and technology are much higher on the totem pole than physical education, but she said at the same time, P.E. is getting more attention in schools these days because of the attention that obesity is also getting.
Conder said it was a compliment just to be nominated for the Educator of the Year honor from the Wolfforth Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
“It made me feel good,” she said. “Evidently some things that I’ve been doing have been the right things. Kids and parents see that we’re trying to have a good program here at Crestview.”
In her spare time, Conder is involved with the Green Lawn Church of Christ, where she teaches Sunday school for some of the youngest participants, who are 17 to 22 months old.
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