From the Air Force, Physical Education teacher Rebecca Opp joins SPA for a new flight

Kevin Chen, RubicOnline

“Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always loved anything health and fitness related,” said Opp.
This love has been shown in numerous parts of Opp’s life journey: from being a gymnastics coach for most of her high school career to being named the Academic Monitor for a flight of 52 women in the Air Force. However, those parts of Opp’s life are not only fitness-related but also teaching-related. Her experiences coaching gymnastics during high school was the beginning of her path to teaching, and during her service at the Air Force, that path was finally able to flourish as she taught women from across the nation.

Yet, how did these paths lead to SPA?

“One of the main things that jumped out to me[at SPA] was just the emphasis on the social and emotional learning for students. That is huge in my classes and how I teach holistic health and wellness,” said Opp.

And Opp has been seizing this emphasis. While reviewing the expectations and policies for her Physical Education class, she led the students to a jar filled with differently colored beads. Each color corresponded to an emotion, with some expressing enthusiasm, indifference, and distress. By having the students anonymously place a bead with the color matching their mood, Opp could effectively gauge the emotions of the class and adapt her teaching plans accordingly.

That is huge in my classes and how I teach holistic health and wellness.”

— Rebecca Opp

Even with innovations like these, Opp’s teaching cannot overcome all obstacles, especially the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of it[the challenges] was doing hybrid with students in-person and online at the same time, and it’s hard to provide an equitable experience in that situation,” said Opp.

Yet, in the face of these challenges, simply being able to talk with her students about their lives, or, more importantly, dogs, makes everything for Opp just a little better.