If students from Page Elementary School in Boone start coming home with stories about playing “spaghetti and meatballs” in P.E. class, they really aren’t playing with their food.
When physical education instructor Donna Beste serves up “spaghetti and meatballs” to her young students, it’s a free-wheeling time of balls dropped in hula-hoop “plates” and pushed out by those fun “spaghetti noodles” made of foam!
This isn’t their mom and dad’s P.E. class. This is a game designed to get the kids moving and having fun — all the while showing them that there’s all sorts of ways to move and be healthy.
“I try to focus not just on exercises, but showing them that it’s fun,” says Beste.
A native of Sainte Genevieve, Mo., Beste earned her bachelor’s degree in K-12 physical education from Northwest Missouri State in 1982. She returned to her hometown right after college graduation to teach high school physical education. The memory gives her great empathy for any young teacher who comes home to begin a career.
“My younger sister was a senior, my niece was a senior, and I was teaching in my own high school, so it was hard,” she recalls. “Coming straight out of college and teaching high school, I found that really difficult.”
Beste married the following year, moved to Cedar Rapids and went into retail before she and her husband moved their young family to Boone in 1989. At that point she returned to the classroom, but as a reading associate.
She enjoyed those years, and the opportunity to work closely with students, but opted to make the transition back to full-time P.E. teacher when her own children got a little older. She’s been teaching lower level elementary P.E. for seven years now and finds great reward in showing the youngest of students that being active — and being healthy — can also be fun.
While there are still times for organized games, she focuses on teaching students to be creative and find ways to be active no matter what they’re doing. During that raucous game of “spaghetti and meatballs,” with kids running the gym, batting balls with their foam noodles, and dropping balls onto pretend plates, laughter abounded as they pumped up their heart rate.
“What I try to teach them is to have an active, healthy lifestyle,” she concluded.