- Course studied:
- Sports and Recreation Studies BA (Hons)
- Year of graduation:
Teacher of the Year
America’s Health Teacher of the Year Andrew Milne has gone from London to Chicago in a career as a health and PE teacher, blogger and fundraiser. The Staffordshire University Sports and Recreation graduate now lives in the USA with his wife and two sons, teaches at a high school of over 4,000 students, is invited to travel across America to present at conferences, and picks up national awards for his dedication and hard work.
Alongside teaching at Chicago’s New Trier High School, Andy also runs a blog called #slowchathealth, promoting discussion, sharing of resources and inspiration for health teachers. He also launched sendateacher.com, raising funds to send teachers lacking financial support to professional learning events throughout the country.
The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America named Andy as the National Health Education Teacher of the Year in 2017 in recognition of his outstanding teaching performance. He said: “The award means a lot to me. It was a reward for the hours that I put into my planning, the committees on which I serve, the blog site I run, the fundraising initiative that I created and much more.”
Career in teaching
Andy’s teaching career began after graduating from Staffordshire University in 1992. Then a polytechnic, Andy studied Sports and Recreation, after achieving three A-levels in history, English literature and film studies at a London grammar school.
“There were around 72 students on our course at Staffs and we all had matching Adidas tracksuits that we wore like uniforms,” he recalled. “The course was great in that it covered a wide area of sports related topics from sociology to history, psychology to biomechanics and more.
“It opened our eyes to so many sport-related academic areas but, at that time, it was difficult to see which career path would open up. Some of my class stayed on to do a Masters degree. More, like me, went on to take a PGCE and become teachers.”
Andy studied for his teaching qualification in physical education and English at Exeter University before taking his first job at Chessington Community College, in London. Three years later he moved to Cheam High School and then, four years on, progressed to a large, prestigious boys’ private school, Dulwich College, where he remained for five years.
He said: “Teaching PE came from my desire to remain physically active and be involved with something that I loved. Although I know I made the right decision, I walked away from teaching for two years to chase money as a recruitment consultant. That’s when I realised it was my calling. I’ve been teaching for over 20 years now and look forward to going to work every day.”
Andy left his “dream job” in London after meeting his future wife in a bar in Piccadilly Circus. He fell in love and moved to America, got married and started his career again, learning how the American academic system works.
“I had hit the educational equivalent of the lottery in London, teaching in one of the great capital cities in the world at my dream school where I felt valued by the staff and students alike,” Andy explained. “The move to America was hard initially and I had to work very hard to develop a reputation and learn more about the academic system in America.
“The SHAPE America award reinforced my decision, however, and now I’m married, have two young sons and my work-life balance is nearly perfect. As much as I miss England, particularly my family and friends, not to mention the warm bitter, I won’t be leaving America.
“I now teach physical education and health at a fantastic school on the north west suburbs of Chicago called New Trier High School. With 4,000 students on two campuses, it’s larger than Staffordshire Polytechnic was when I was there.”