By Christian Steiner
“Your health is your wealth,” quoted Nancy Handley as she plans to abide to her own rules of remaining fit after finalizing the last of her 44 years of teaching in physical education on Wednesday November 26, 2014.
Starting in 1970, Ms. Handley has been improving student lives both physically and mentally. Starting off as a home economics teacher, showing kids how to fully utilize their kitchens, Handley moved on to teaching kids about the ins and outs of their own bodies- and how to improve them.
It was the physical education field that Ms. Handley found herself happily waking up in the morning for. She loved the challenge it presented and all the improvements she led to in her student’s daily lives.
“Work is not work if you enjoy what you do,” Handley stated more towards the early mornings she will not miss. Ms. Handley will long for the sense of gratification she received when: “…seeing people grow because it gives me satisfaction when a person comes in that I have taught and they tell me about something I said to them in class”
On her last day at Miami Lakes Educational Center Ms. Handley was visited by many of her former students during her 6th period class. The former student’s gifted Ms. Handley with exactly what she wanted this holiday season by telling the story of how she changed their lives.
The former students came over and told her current class they should be grateful for the amount of time they had Ms. Handley: “You guys should be grateful. This is the same lady that got me in shape in the beginning. I used to be so lazy. All those days of hardworking insanity, running the mile, crunches.”
A somber tone was found in her voice as she reminisced on a student who visited MLEC from college after hearing of her retirement. The student was inspired during physical education with Ms. Handley to pursue a career as a personal trainer all though she, “hated to exercise” at first. This is the exact irony that brings a smile and a sense of accomplishment to Ms. Handley. Knowing she played a role in shaping this students life.
Ms. Handley ensured that her students did not only improve their physical health but understood how. After laps around the bus loop, a game of basketball, or a rigorous session of Zumba, Ms. Handley would have her students take a health textbook and educate themselves on the proper jargon.
Though Ms. Handley will miss her position in the education field dearly, she will not enter the world of retirement quietly. An ordinary retiree would just want to stay in their homes after years of labor and enjoy the serenity of their surroundings. But Ms. Handley, still in peak physical condition thanks to her job and dedication, is no ordinary retiree.
“When I leave here I’m going to Houston. Then in February I’m going to throw a senior citizens pajama party with ten of my closest friends, people form graduate school. Throw a pajama party and then go to Mardi Gras. Then in April I’m going to Paris and Dubai then Hawaii in August,” Ms. Handley hopes to accomplish all of this by the end of 2015.
Grand plans for a grand woman MLEC will seem very much less active without. Her students appear to agree with this sentiment as Ms. Handley was rewarded with a standing ovation whilst exiting her final teaching period.