By Kelly Hinchcliffe

Durham, N.C. — When Lara Brickhouse was a traditional physical education teacher working with middle school students, she felt something was missing. So she began using her lunch breaks and planning periods to work with special needs students at her school, helping them learn about movement and exercise.

She loved working with them so much, she transitioned to a new role as an adapted PE teacher, allowing her to help special needs students fulltime.

Last week, she was named the national Adapted PE Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America, the Society of Health and Physical Educators. The award comes with a $1,000 stipend and the ability to travel the country, all expenses paid, to give presentations about adapted PE during the next year. She’s already booked for San Diego in July.

Our National Adapted PE TOY, Lara Brickhouse. “I am just doing what’s right for my kids.” #SHAPEBostonpic.twitter.com/PKqv2YoYp2

— SHAPE America (@SHAPE_America) March 17, 2017

“It’s still very surreal and very humbling for me, because I wouldn’t be where I am without my students and the people I work with,” Brickhouse said, crying. “When people ask me if I have kids and I say, ‘no,’ that’s really not the right answer, because I have 110 of my students that I consider my kids, and there’s not a lot that I wouldn’t do for them.

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