Jason Payne has been teaching for 15 years and says the key to his success is his use creativity and consistency.


“They know exactly what to expect from me when they walk in the gym,” said Payne, a physical education teacher at Homestead Elementary School. “They know I’ll be here to help as a teacher being consistent with the kids, a lot of times their life isn’t consistent.”


He tries to exercise both the body and mind, changing up game rules, routines and the equipment they use.


“To get the kids to do the same thing 50 times you have to be very creative in getting them to do it,” Payne said.


Hanging in his office are size 19 former NBA player tennis shoes, a prop he uses to start conversations with the kids while teaching them a lesson to tie their shoes tight so they don’t trip. It’s also a way to get the kids to open up so he can start making connections early on in the school year. However, he says he’s known most of his fifth-grade students since they began elementary school in kindergarten.


“You get to know each kid and each kid has something that they can really bring to the table,” Payne said. “If you can find that with each kid you can get a little bit more out of them.”


Payne taught in the Northwest Alaska community of Selawik for several years before he found his way to Homestead Elementary, a place and position he considers home.


“I moved a lot as a kid and when I moved, the first person I made a connection with was usually a physical education teacher,” he said.


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