Top Notch Teacher: March

Physical education classes have taken on a serious urgency through the years, as the nation’s obesity rate hit alarming levels. One teacher at Sparta High School is challenging students to set goals so they can live healthier lives.

“They don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” said Larry Noll, March’s top notch teacher winner.

Larry Noll’s 21 years at Sparta High School and 33 years as a physical educator have taught him to connect with kids on a personal level.

“You have to be able to build relationships with the kids,” Noll said.

Sparta freshman Libby Leis says her mom was also taught by Noll.

“Whether you were having a horrible day or not, he could always make you smile,” Libby said.

She says he has pushed two generations to give their best effort.

“Going into gym I hated the mile and everything. And then, I finished three minutes earlier with a really fast mile, and he just pushes you to be your best.”

Noll said Phy Ed used to focus on team sports.

“If you didn’t like team sports, you probably weren’t going to be real successful or not get a good grade,” Noll said.

But now, it’s more about achieving a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s not about being talented, it’s about wherever you are at, let’s set a baseline and let’s grow all semester long,” Noll said. He said he grades based on where students starts and where they finish.

“We try to educate them on why being physically fit is such an important part of their lifetime wellness and lifetime happiness,” Noll said.

He said teens show more motivation as they grow closer to entering the real world.

“They see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Noll said.

But sometimes kids need someone to get their head in the game.

“As a teacher, I think it’s our responsibility to help them reach that, and sometimes you have to push the buttons a little bit,” Noll said.

It’s these same students who remind him how much he loves coming to work every day.

“I think it’s one of those deals where they are constantly challenging you to be your best so that you can bring that back to them, and I think that’s what inspires me to keep going,” Noll said.