Robert Kratochvil
Dean of Students, Athletic Director,
Gym teacher

Holy Child Academy
Old Westbury, NY

Everyone has a talent in this life and Robert Kroatochvil has many, but I wanted to focus on his gift of communicating with children. He has a successful way of teaching which motivates all levels of students to encourage one another; thus creating an atmosphere of teamwork and success. Success has different meanings depending on who you ask. I would like to share how Mr. Kratochvil describes his curriculum and how he teaches his students to view success. Here is what he had to say:

I consider myself the antithesis of a stereotypical gym teacher. Gym class is not just about learning a physical skill. Each of my lessons incorporate a mental, physical, and wellness component. The mental part of the lesson is incorporated using a reaction game. To explain further. The students learn that the words I say are more important than the actions I do. They have to be astute listeners in order to be successful. For example, I may instruct everyone to run to the blue line while I run to the red one. The children learn to listen, process, and then execute. The physical part of the lesson is a warm up exercise or drill at game speed. This gives the student the proper idea of what is expected during a competition and the effort level they are expected to exert. Finally, there is the wellness aspect. This aspect is probably emphasized the most. I believe that it is important that my students learn to appreciate when they have success and also support and recognize the success of their peers no matter what level of natural athletic gifts they possess.

How is this put in action? It all begins with how the message is communicated . I believe it is important to model the behavior you are trying to teach. I teach my students by the motto “Effort beats talent when talent doesn't give effort”. During class, each student is thoughtfully praised not for the outcome, but for the process. Each child knows that no matter what level of skill they have, there is an opportunity for recognition. For example, I may tell a student playing basketball “good shot”. The shot may technically not be good, but considering the child couldn't even catch the ball 2 weeks prior and never got a chance to take a shot, it was a good effort and an improvement recognized. Whereas, another player may have a better overall technique shooting, but he makes no effort to improve his shot. This player will not receive praise. Overtime, the students realize there is a realistic expectation for making progress and they soon recognize and celebrate their milestones. More importantly, this philosophy helps raise the awareness of their classmates' talent level and they begin to encourage and praise accordingly. As a result, collectively the class as a whole gains confidence in themselves and each other and they learn to take risks which allows for personal growth.

In our program, we teach children to be good citizens, hard working, thoughtful, team players who encourage one another. This I believe is success.