A PE teacher who coaxed a troubled teenager who would not move a muscle into becoming a county standard discus thrower has won a major award.
Aimee Jones walked the red carpet and lifted a coveted Plato at the Wales finals of the Teaching Awards at Cardiff's City Hall last week after being named outstanding new teacher of the year.
Her major achievement, the audience was told, was in using reverse psychology to encourage a girl most teachers had given up on to take part in sport.
The girl, whom it was decided not to name, is no longer at the school. But speaking after the event, the 24-year-old teacher from Ysgol Bryn Elian in Colwyn Bay told how using hardline tactics on PE-hating pupils was often counter-productive.
"It's easier if you take an interest in pupils instead," she said "So many people don't like PE because they've had a bad experience in the past. I want them to do well and enjoy it.
"I hated hockey at school yet I find it easier to teach than netball, which I played for Wales at under-17 level. I understand how hard hockey is."
Speaking of her young prodigy from the winners' podium, Miss Jones told how she had taken the girl under her wing. "I just brought her natural talent out of her. I gave her little jobs, like being in charge of equipment and looking after someone else in the group.
"She saw other girls having fun and at the end of one lesson asked if she could have a go at the high jump. Before long she was showing a natural ability at throwing the discus. In rapid time she progressed from performing on sports day to inter-school contests and then on to county level.
"The school was amazed she became one of its best athletes."
Miss Jones believes self-consciousness is often a major reason why some pupils don't perform to the best of their ability on sport's day. "The key to success is making PE fun and being patient, not least when people struggle."
A graduate of Liverpool university in sports studies, Miss Jones came to Ysgol Bryn Elian on teaching practice while doing her postgraduate certificate in education at Bangor university. She fitted in well and they gave her a job.
She also received praise for bringing her department up-to-date by using hi tech IT equipment and a video system providing almost instant feedback on pupils' performance.
Speaking at the ceremony, head Stephen Matthews described Miss Jones as one of the most impressive new teachers he'd ever seen in action. "She has an infectious enthusiasm point her at anything and she'll have a go," he said.
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