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Teacher from High Point School in Ann Arbor wins statewide award

An Ann Arbor area teacher has received statewide recognition as the 2023 Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

Delia Powell works at High Point School on the west side of Ann Arbor. The school specializes in students from ages 3 to 26, who have abilities ranging from severe multiple impairments who operate exclusively in wheelchairs to students with autism.

All of the districts in Washtenaw County provide special education services, but High Point receives students on a referral basis. Powell designs physical education classes that work with each student’s abilities.

Powell says her kids just want to be like everybody else.

“They want to play games. They want to make friends. They want to be social. They want to have the same opportunities to do the same type of things that general education students do; they just might do it a little differently. But they definitely don’t want to be left out.”

Powell says she tries to think outside of the box to find activities that students can do outside of school.

“If I teach them, in school, in the community, and provide information for their parents so that they can continue doing this later in life or on the weekends, that is the biggest goal of adapted physical education—to get the students to make this part of their lifestyle, not just a class.”

Powell has worked as an adapted PE teacher for 10 years. She says her job requires a lot of creativity to design classes that are compatible with her student’s wide-ranging abilities. Some of the recent activities have included ice skating, bowling and trout fishing.

The award was presented by the Society of Health and Physical Educators of Michigan.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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