Phys ed teacher who models perseverance and emphasizes respect is recognized at the National Liberty Museum's "Teacher as Hero" Awards.

In March the National Liberty Museum honored 20 teachers out of nearly 100 nominations from across the Mid-Atlantic as the heroes they truly are at the “Teacher as Heroes” Awards. The shining star among them was Gesu’s ten-year-veteran phys ed teacher Sean Deal. Mr. Deal was recognized for the countless hours he dedicates to Gesu’s and the region’s athletic programs, his generosity in mentoring students both past and present, his perseverance, his creative teaching approach, and his contribution to defusing violence. 

Born several months premature, Mr. Deal has had serious physical challenges as well as a learning disability to overcome throughout his life. Despite the tremendous difficulties he faced, practice, determination and hard work enabled him to play basketball in high school and to persevere academically through college to earn his bachelor’s degree in education. For the last ten years, much of his persistence has gone into helping Gesu students overcome their own obstacles in order to realize the same success that he has achieved.

While healthy exercise and eating habits may be the core subject matter in Mr. Deal’s phys ed class and on the court, RESPECT is equally emphasized in Mr. Deal’s gym. Mr. Deal’s lessons in respect begin with showing students and athletes respect himself. But for this “extremely competitive” crowd, Mr. Deal also stresses how to win with dignity and how to lose with dignity, to show humility and shake hands when they’ve won a competition, and that hurtful words can stay with people for a lifetime. 

Before Gesu School had a gymnasium, Mr. Deal had to be quite inventive to come up with activities that would work in the school’s basement multi-purpose room. He took a lot of that outside-of-the-box thinking with him to the school’s new gym (which he thanks you for!). He’s always looking for creative ways to teach proper eating and exercising habits, and finding ways to incorporate music into the activities he’s developed to tap into our students’ love of music. Because of Mr. Deal’s rapport with the students, other teachers often turn to him for help with a student whose grades are slipping, who isn’t doing homework, or who is having other challenges. Such trust and respect speaks for itself.

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