Andrew Pederson is Fillmore Central High School’s new physical education and health teacher. His love of teaching and getting to know his students will be in the forefront as he teaches grades seven through 12 and an adaptive phy-ed class.   ANTON ADAMEK/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Andrew Pederson is Fillmore Central High School’s new physical education and health teacher. His love of teaching and getting to know his students will be in the forefront as he teaches grades seven through 12 and an adaptive phy-ed class. ANTON ADAMEK/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
"If my students aren't having fun in class, I'm not doing my job," shared new Fillmore Central physical education and health instructor Andrew Pederson.

During his first year at Fillmore Central, Pederson is looking forward to using the strengths he has in relating to students to engage them both in the gym and the classroom.

Growing up and going to school in Sauk Rapids, Minn., it became clear to Pederson early on that he should teach. He credits conversations he had with his parents during car rides with helping consider a possible physical education and health-teaching career.

"I thought about it and realized it was an interest," he added.

Pederson was very active in camps, coaching youth sports and working with kids in general. Continuing his education at Minnesota State University Mankato, he graduated in 2010 with a double major in phy-ed and health education and an adaptive phy-ed minor so he could better work with disabled students.

In his student teaching experience at Foley schools, Pederson was "thrown into the fire." Learning from experience helped him realize, "I could do it and I didn't need help from someone else."

Soon after graduation, he landed a job at Kingsland schools as a kindergarten through sixth-grade phy-ed instructor in the fall of 2010.

His switch to Fillmore Central was spurred on because of a desire to teach older students. "I feel like I can relate even more to those students," he said. Also, his fiancée was from the area, which provided another incentive to move.

At Fillmore Central, Pederson feels like he will be able to talk to his students on a more personal level than he was able to do with younger students. "I wasn't able to teach life skills," he explained adding that teaching younger kids sometimes turned into babysitting.

One of those life skills is to maintain an active lifestyle. "I want them to enjoy physical activity and it doesn't have to be with sports. It could be a walk, as long as you get your 60 minutes of physical activity every day," he explained.

Pederson recognizes the challenges facing the health of many people in the United States, especially young adults moving from high school to college or elsewhere. "Make sure you give yourself some time and try to carry that in life. It's a challenge each student has to face after high school," he stated.

In order to instill this mindset in his students, Pederson is looking forward to teaching both in the gym and classroom. About the teaching in the gym he said, "I love the unstructured setting. I call it organized chaos." The reason is because he feels like he can keep students engaged in what is going on by having them move. It will be Pederson's first year teaching a health class and he plans on occasionally bringing in the "organized chaos" element to help keep students' attention.

"They will have classroom and school rules to follow, but I expect them to have fun," he shared.

Keeping the students engaged will be helped by the integration of the students' laptop computers. "I'm ready to hit the ground running," explained Pederson on how he plans to use the computers. He is looking forward to the increased interaction and feedback he can give students outside the classroom through the laptops.

While excited about the opportunities the laptops will provide students, Pederson also recognized the distraction they could become. His plan to eliminate that possibility will be to designate times when computers can and cannot be used. Pederson figured, "I'm helping prepare these kids for college one day," because of the increased use of technology in education.

Pederson also said good relationships with parents are necessary. 'This is a setting where kids are getting their life skills," Pederson related. "There is a partnership between parents and teachers to help students succeed. If parents have suggestions, I'm open to communication at all times."

At the end of the day, Pederson hopes he can help students realize that they can never be too old to be a kid. "I can be a kid at heart," Pederson laughed. Sometimes, he even challenges students with a reward for completing the challenge.

Pederson admits that he is a sports nut. He enjoys playing and watching sports and spending time with family and friends. "When I'm around people is when I'm the happiest. It's in my nature to be social and outgoing," he said.

In addition to his classroom responsibilities, Pederson will be coaching B-squad football and boys' basketball this year and is looking forward to those activities. He expects transitioning to be proud of the Falcons to be easier, since he's not originally from the area.

"I'm definitely prepared for the start of school," he concluded.