CLEARWATER, Fla. — School is not just about working the mind.

It's also about working the body.

This week’s A+ Teacher is a Countryside High School coach who brings the same level of intensity from the field into the classroom.

What You Need To Know

  • Eileen Givens is this week's A+ Teacher

  • Givens is a PE teacher and Track & Field/Cross Country Coach at Countryside High in Clearwater

  • More A+ Teacher Stories

"I have to pull whatever is inside them that they don't feel like they have,” said Eileen Givens, a Physical Education teacher and track & field coach for the Cougars. “I try to pull that out of them."

Givens has been teaching, training and motivating students for decades.

For 31 years, Givens has been focusing on the whole student - mind and body, as well as exercise and academic performance.

"I always try to let the students know how important health and fitness are, and what they learn is that students who exercise, they are better able to focus their attention,” Givens said. “They are quicker to perform simple tasks and they have better working memories and problem solving skills."

Students don't have to be on the track and field and cross country teams to benefit from coach givens' wisdom.

"Some of them (students) couldn't even walk one time around the track without breathing heavily, and now they can go three laps around the track, and they're like, 'coach, you're right. It's getting easier now,” she said. "I told them it would get easier, and it also came with the flexibility and working on their coordination. The more you do it, the easier it gets."

Due to Covid-19, group activities like flag football and basketball are sidelined for PE.

Most of her lesson plan is limited to the classroom now.

So in August, she brought it to life and transformed the room with bright colors and motivational messages.

"I wanted to brighten the room to make it feel alive. I wanted orange and yellow desks, and i had yellow backgrounds put on my boards to brighten it up,” Givens said.  "I wanted the kids to feel welcomed and i wanted exuberance and just to lighten the mood, especially for those who to come back to brick and mortar."