SWCS teacher honored by Jackson student

 Messenger photo by Bob Garman
 Joe Dollins (right) helps out Jeff Joos, a former South-Western City School District student at the May 2 Grove City High School wheelchair basketball game. Dollins is an adapted physical education teacher in the district and has been honored by the Ohio PTA and Panera Bread.

Joe Dollins, an adapted physical education teacher with the South-Western City School District, has always wanted to be an educator. Now he is being honored for what he does.

"I always loved school and everything that encompasses it," Dollins said. "I loved learning new things, interacting with teachers and socializing with friends.

I really looked forward to going to school and thought ‘what better career is there than being a teacher?’"

After graduating from Grove City High School in 2003, Dollins went on to college at Wright State University where he picked his path of adapted physical education.

Adapted physical education is physical education that may be adapted or modified to address the individualized needs of children and youth who have motor developmental delays.

"I didn’t know too much about it (adapted physical education) until I got to Wright State," he said. "In my sophomore year, all physical education majors had to take an introduction to adapted athletics course and I became fascinated with all the aspects of it. I fell in love with the research, the knowledge base and learning about the different types of disabilities."

He even coached the Wright State University’s wheelchair basketball team and helped establish the adapted track and swimming teams.

"Joe is a very persistent and involved young man," said Libby Watkins, principal of Jackson Middle School. "He does a lot for the students."

As a self-proclaimed traveling teacher, Jackson Middle School is just one of the ten schools within the district that Dollins teaches at, but that is where he was recognized by a pupil of his for an award.

"I was unaware that he (eighth grader Curtis Greczyn) was nominating me for the Rising Above Award, but I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that I was a finalist for it," he said.

After participating in an interview process that focused on overall teaching philosophy, community involvement and creative teaching techniques, the first year teacher was declared a Rising Above winner for a particular grade level.

The Rising Above Award is a collaborative effort between Panera Bread and the Ohio Parent Teacher Association designed to recognize outstanding teachers throughout the greater Columbus area.

"I am very honored that Curtis nominated me for this," Dollins said. "It is nice to know that the hard work you put in, the hours you put in and the lessons plans you make are noticed.

I am privileged to work with him and all of the students in the district. The award itself is nice, but it’s nicer knowing that the students care about you and that you are making an impact on them."

Dollins was one of three educators in central Ohio honored.

"The Rising Above Award was created to recognize the power and influence of great teachers," said Jeff Rains, President of the Columbus-area Panera Bread bakery cafes.

"We are proud to honor these amazing educators. They are each a truly great teacher that rises above the call of duty in the classroom."

Not only will they get an awards ceremony (the one for Dollins is on May 16 at Jackson Middle School); each teacher will receive a $100 gift card from Panera Bread, a plaque to display in their classroom and a $500 grant for their school.

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