Danville resident Terri Drain has been named the Pleasanton Unified School District's 2016 Teacher of the Year and will advance to the countywide competition later this year.
A Pleasanton teacher for 18 years, Drain got her start in a small mining town in British Columbia, Canada. As a student, she didn't have physical education in elementary school, but once her classes started incorporating exercise into the school day, she saw how much it impacted her daily life.
Now, as a physical education teacher at Vintage Hills Elementary, Drain strives to give her students that opportunity every day.
But whether she was teaching students who favored ice hockey or ones who preferred to bike in the warm California sun, she said their exuberance is the same.
"I personally believe every child has the right to a life of joyful movement and good health, and I think that schools have a responsibility to provide them with the physical education they need to achieve that," she said. "I think physical education is one of the most important subjects in school."
When she was a child, she said, girls weren't guaranteed the same access to physical education and sports as boys. She wanted to change that.
"When I grew up," she said, "it was not equal for girls, and I wanted to make a difference."
She started by getting degrees in physical education and education from the University of British Columbia, later earning her master's degree in health and human performance from Central Washington University.
Drain, a Danville resident, said she initially taught in British Columbia, rising to become the physical education department head in a Vancouver school. Her husband's job brought her to the Tri-Valley, and she taught at Alisal and Fairlands elementary schools before joining Vintage Hills 17 years ago.
"I've always loved it. I'd never seen myself doing anything else," she said.
While her classes may appear to focus only on cardio, hand-eye coordination or other traditional physical skills, she works to incorporate as many aspects of the Common Core State Standards as possible. Students learn evidence-based decision-making by using a skills checklist to evaluate how they can improve at a sport, and she said she works in vocabulary words wherever possible.
At the same time, those traditional skills are also essential, she said.
"It's all about kids developing the fundamental movement skills that will allow them to participate in a wide variety of activities. If they never learn to throw, for example, they won't be able to do any kind of activities involving the skill of throwing -- baseball, softball, water polo," Drain said. "So it's really really important that kids are able to develop those skills."
One reason she's so passionate about physical education, she said, is because exercise has been a source of joy.
She competed on the University of British Columbia's hockey team and was selected for the school's Sports Hall of Fame. She later met her husband while on a biking trip down the Pacific Coast, and they now take biking trips every summer.
She said she was previously honored as Teacher of the Year for specific education associations, such as being named the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) Teacher of the Year in 2007.
She was recently elected to the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America board of directors, according to the industry association, and holds her National Board Certification.
In her spare time, Drain coordinates physical education teacher workshops through her nonprofit, Health and Physical Education Collaborative. The organization holds two workshops a year for teacher enrichment, she said, including one in Pleasanton.