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’04 grad Jennifer Perryman garners attention for alternative approach to physical education

October 15, 2012 | Ian Richardson

To solve a problem, sometimes you need to think outside the box.

Just ask 2004 Evangel graduate Jennifer (Cirtin) Perryman, whose recent innovations to the physical education program at Nixa High School in Nixa, Missouri, have made many students more excited about engaging in physical fitness.

Jennifer graduated with a degree in Secondary Education and an emphasis in History. The daughter of Evangel Criminal Justice Program founder and director Robert Cirtin, Jennifer had always planned on attending Evangel because it was close to her Springfield home, small in size and, most importantly, Christ-centered.

While at Evangel, Jennifer spent two years playing for the girls’ golf team. She also received a job coaching basketball at Nixa Junior High School, developing a connection that she would expand upon in the years to come. Jennifer is grateful for the personal care that the Evangel faculty took in order to ready her for her future.

“The professors at Evangel prepared me very well for my career,” Jennifer says.

“They were very hands-on, and I felt like I had a personal connection with each one. The reputation that the Education Department has is very good, and my employers knew that if I was coming from Evangel, I was very well taught and would be prepared.”

Jennifer Perryman

2004 graduate Jennifer (Cirtin) Perryman has received attention for her alternative approach to physical education at Nixa High School in Nixa, Missouri.

At the end of her senior year, Nixa offered Jennifer a middle-school social studies teaching position. “I actually got the phone call as I was pulling into the parking lot the morning of our college graduation,” she says.

Jennifer soon became certified to teach physical education and accepted a position as a PE teacher at Nixa High School, a job she has now held for six years. Along with her teaching duties, Jennifer serves as Nixa’s head girls’ golf coach and assistant girls’ basketball coach.

Recently, Jennifer has introduced some new physical education options at Nixa High School. Working to increase student involvement, she decided to offer something other than the traditional team sports approach. “I realized there was a need for a different type of physical education class,” she says. “There were a lot of people who weren’t comfortable in the competitive sports setting, and the participation was declining in our classes.”

Jennifer’s idea for an alternative option: workout videos. “I started asking students if they would be interested in this type of class, and the response was overwhelming. I worked with my guidance counselors and administration and was able to start the class this year.” Video-based workout routines such as P90X and Zumba dancing now allow students to take a more individual approach to PE. Not only has this new program caught the attention of her students, but others are showing interest as well. Her innovative work has been featured on multiple local news stations and in the Springfield News-Leader.

When asked what advice she has for current and incoming students, Jennifer relates a truth that has contributed to her own success. “Being at a smaller school with the reputation that Evangel has will set them up for success after graduation,” she says.

“I would advise students to take advantage of the resources, network connections, and help that is available to them.” Jennifer’s story is a fantastic example of just how effective these connections and resources, with a little bit of ingenuity, can be.

— Ian Richardson, sophomore English major

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