Tahoe-Truckee Teacher of the Year: Mike Pyle is fifth finalist | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee Teacher of the Year: Mike Pyle is fifth finalist

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
Adults in photo, from left:, Michael Gelbman, publisher of the Sierra Sun/
Courtesy photo |

About the award

Now in its fourth year, the Truckee Hometown-SEARS/Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year program was created in 2011 to recognize the efforts of community teachers across Truckee, North Tahoe and Incline Village.

If you know a teacher who is making a lasting impact on students’ lives who you would like to thank, please nominate them for this year’s Teacher of the Year. Nominations can be emailed to: truckeetahoteacheroftheyear@gmail.com or dropped off at Truckee Hometown SEARS.

Truckee Elementary physical education teacher Mike Pyle has been selected as the fifth Teacher of the Year finalist.

Pyle was recognized for his ability to inspire students and families to be more active in and outside of school.

“He excites his students about learning; works well with other teachers, parents, and members of our community; consistently and tirelessly reaches out to students with energy and passion; and inspires and motivates others to become more active within our school, district, community, and life in general,” wrote one parent nominator.

On April 21, Pyle was presented with a certificate and award for his nomination by Michael Gelbman, publisher of the Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, and Charlie Riley, owner of the Truckee Hometown Sears store.

“I feel so lucky to have the job that I have had.”Mike Pyle

Truckee Elementary principal Valerie Simpson praised Pyle’s enthusiasm and preparation.

“Pyle incorporates a wide range of activities with an emphasis on student learning, personal success, fair play, and personal health,” said Simpson. “Students love physical education class.”

Mike Pyle is originally from Santa Cruz, Calif. He attended California State University, Chico, earning a degree in Liberal Studies and Physical Education.

After completing his student teaching in Willows, Calif., Pyle taught one year in Sparks, Nev., before accepting a position at Truckee Elementary.

This is Pyle’s 18th year teaching at Truckee Elementary. What keeps Pyle going is the kids’ enthusiasm.

“I am so fortunate that the kids come with so much energy,” said Pyle. “I just guide them and point their energy in the right direction.”

Pyle certainly brings a lot of energy himself. Parent nominators described the many activities and events Pyle helps organize throughout the year.

These programs require work beyond the school hours, and these additional efforts have not gone unnoticed by parents.

“He reached across the community to engage Glenshire Elementary in an inaugural track meet he coordinated last spring,” wrote one nominator. “He worked with 80 Truckee Elementary kids in an after school track program for seven weeks prior to the meet; he coached them on the importance of life balance, being healthy, eating right, sleep habits, and proper track techniques to avoid injury.”

Parents also praised Pyle’s work with students on a “Thriller” flash mob dance and his help creating a KidsFit Club, with a culminating Truckee Elementary Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course event.

Pyle is quick to note that all of this would not be possible without his fellow PE teacher, Shauna Althof.

“I have an amazing colleague, Shauna Althof,” said Pyle. “It is wonderful to work with her creativity and her skills lesson planning.”

Pyle is also grateful for supportive teachers and administration. He enjoys the opportunities he has to work with teachers on cross curriculum activities that address the Common Core Standards and appreciates all the ways they help support physical education.

“Because of them, we have been able to build a strong program,” said Pyle.

In addition, the physical education program at Truckee Elementary has been able to offer students a variety of opportunities due to Measure A funding.

Measure A is a flat parcel tax that generate funds for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, allowing the district to fund academic, art, technology, science, physical education and other programs.

“I feel so lucky to have the job that I have had,” said Pyle. “With cuts in California, we are still able to keep PE programs because of our community.”

Ultimately, Pyle wants to ensure that all of his students find their own way to maintain active lifestyles.

He strives to lead by example and help students nurture their love of movement.

“I want them to find that activity or sport or recreational pursuit that becomes a passion for them,” said Pyle. “It is so vital in elementary to get the kids to appreciate fitness and be successful when they are young.”

Pyle feels lucky to be teaching in an area with so many recreational opportunities, ones provided by nature and those provided by the community.

Parents may argue, however, that Pyle himself plays a critical role encouraging and inspiring his young students to take advantage of all these opportunities and keep moving.